Princess of Amathar – Chapter 27 Excerpt

Princess of AmatharWhen Noriandara Remontar and I finally felt we were well provisioned enough for a relatively long sea voyage, we pulled the raft down to the water and placed all of our supplies on it. Then we climbed on. There was just barely enough room for us and our things, and it was impossible for both of us to lie down and sleep at the same time. It was planned that we would take turns paddling and resting. At first we both paddled to get away from the shore, and it was only after the edge of the water was only a dim line in the distance that we settled into our rotation.
The reflected sun on the water made the air a little warmer than it had been for us on the shore. At least that is my explanation for it, not being a meteorologist myself. It was by no means uncomfortable though. Indeed, if it had been a more comfortable vessel in which we found ourselves, I would have thought this the most pleasant of vacations. The water was cool but it was difficult to see down into it more than a foot or so. Perhaps this had something to do with the salt content. When the job of rowing became overtaxing, the Princess would remove her tabard and boots, and slide over the side of the raft into the water to cool off. I did this too on occasion, though more often I would simply scoop out a basket full of water to poor over my head. There was something unwholesome about an ocean with no fish. I had little problem swimming around in the Pacific Ocean near Catalina Island on Earth despite the fact that it is the summer feeding grounds for the Great White Shark– not that I didn’t think about them. At least there, they had plenty of sea lions and fish to choose from. Here in the fishless water, if some great voracious creature decided it was hungry, it didn’t have much from which to choose. The Princess and I were, not respectively, the main course and desert.
“How large do you suppose this sea to be?” I asked my companion.
“I do not believe it is much more than one hundred kentads (about two hundred miles),” she replied. “We should be across it before our food runs low.”
“How can you be sure?” “I am not sure. But I have a sense for these things.”

Princess of Amathar – Writing

Princess of AmatharOne of the ideas that I had about Amatharian culture was the imporance of writing and by extension of penmanship. I also liked the idea that their writing might have letters that looked like something other than abstract shapes. We usually forget that some of our own letters, in the distant past, came from pictographic writing.

The book was very much like the book of Amath’s teachings which Norar Remontar had previously shown me. It was a bound volume with a spine, and it had a cover made of leather. The pages were made of a material something like plastic. They were thin and they could bend like paper, but they had a strength far beyond any paper product. The entire book was written in Amatharian, which of course I was unable to read, but the lines and letters seemed to be laid out in a familiar fashion. As I had noticed, the characters resembling simple line drawings of stylized animals and other almost familiar images. After staring at it for a moment, I almost thought that I could see tiny predators ready to pounce upon their prey.

Princess of Amathar – Chapter 26 Excerpt

Princess of AmatharClimbing down the ladder in the open air, to the landing platform two hundred feet below might have created problems for anyone with a fear of heights, but it was nothing compared to the trip from the platform to the ground on a strand of plastic cable. I am not prone to acrophobia, but was still unnerved. I thought for a moment that the city had gained altitude since we had come aboard, but quickly realized that this was not so, as the cables were still trailing along the ground at about the same length.
“I’ll go down first,” I said. “Follow me.”
I wanted to make sure that if she fell, I would have a chance to catch her, and likewise if I were to fall, that I would not knock her off as well. She nodded, and I started down. The climb was much easier than I expected. I had gotten used to the effect that the lower gravity had upon me when I walked, ran, or picked something up. I had forgotten that the same principles would apply in this situation, allowing me to lift my own body with much greater ease than I would have had I been on Earth.
About half way down the cord to the ground, I stopped and looked up to check on the Princess’s progress. She was some thirty feet above me and seemed to be having no trouble with the descent. I paused for a moment to look around and noticed for the first time that as we were climbing down one rope, something was climbing up another. About fifty feet away from our position, a creature was ascending. It was horrible looking. It was frighteningly ugly. It was the stuff of nightmares. I was thankful for the eternal daylight of Ecos, for to face such a thing in the darkness was something I had no wish to contemplate. About twice the height of a man, the creature was covered with slime-dripping green hair. Its upper extremities were half hands, half flippers and its lower extremities were even more flipper-like, with suction cups lining the interiors. Its face was nothing more that a large sucker with a stinger or a long tusk protruding from it.
“Amath preserve us!” cried the Princess, seeing the thing for the first time.
“Indeed,” I replied, “Have you ever seen anything like that?”
“No, and I hope I never do again.”
The creature stared at us for several moments with its malevolent yellow eyes drilling holes into us. It then looked up and down. Then it attempted to swing the cord it was climbing, as if to, Tarzan-like, propel itself over to us. Quickly realizing that it would not be able to do so, it turned its attention away from us and resumed its task of making toward the hovering city.
“I hate to think of that thing preying on our flyers,” I said.
“Or the Kartags,” said Noriandara Remontar, and I agreed. I wouldn’t have turned that creature loose on a Zoasian.

Amathar – Communication

Princess of AmatharI had Amathar in my head for many years before I started writing it. In many ways, it is the perfect world that I pictured when I was a teenager. It still reflects quite a few of my own personal feelings about the technological world. I have always hated talking on the telephone. I don’t know why, I just do. My cell minutes are usually in the single digits for any given month. I suppose that it’s no surprise then that there are no phones in Amathar. The Amatharians don’t like to hear voices that don’t have a face with them. They don’t have radios or any long-distance communication. This has the added storytelling benefit of leaving our hero alone without any way to contact help. On the other hand, I like to write. The Amatharians all love to write. Hardly any Amatharian reaches adulthood without having written at least one book, and they communicate extensively by letter. The letters are sent through vacuum tubes to each house, like we have at the bank. I have always been fascinated by those tubes. When I was in the hospital, I saw that they used them to send records from one floor to the other.

Princess of Amathar – Chapter 25 Excerpt

Princess of AmatharOnce we had eaten, the head avian stood up, and again motioned for us to follow him. He led us to the edge of the building and hopped off. Looking after him, I saw him fly up and enter the side of the building through an open window.
“I hope he doesn’t expect us to do the same,” I said, but a moment later he reappeared from the opening and flew back up to our position, this time carrying a rope stretching out from the window. When he reached our elevation, he took the end of the rope which he carried, and tied it around the base of one of the potted trees. He then pointed over the edge with his wing.
“Shall we climb down?” asked Noriandara Remontar.
“I don’t know how much more my arm can take,” I said, attempting to reminder her both that I had a broken arm, and that it had been broken in service to her.
“You are treating it like a mother’s mother’s elder sister,” she replied, which was an Amatharian expression something along the line of “babying it”– literally, treating it as you would treat a frail old great aunt.
I sighed, resigned to the knowledge that I would get no sympathy on the subject. It seemed that the Princess was, in general, an unsympathetic person. She quite reminded me of her aunt in that respect. Grasping the rope firmly, I stepped over the edge of the building top, and repelled down the side, twenty feet or so, until I reached the open window and entered. Noriandara Remontar was close behind me.
I don’t know what I expected– perhaps a feather-lined nest, but I was pleasantly surprised by what turned out to be our accommodations during our stay with the flyers. The room was about fourteen feet wide, and about twenty-five feet long. It was clean, and it was empty with the exception of two large sleeping mats made of heaps of soft grasses covered with smooth white cloth. Before I had a chance to examine anything else, our friendly avian arrived, pointed to the beds with his wing, and then left. I didn’t need to be told twice. I dropped down in the first of the beds and as usual had no trouble in dropping right off to sleep.
I suspect that I slept a long while, though as usual, I had no way to tell– it was still noon when I woke. It was a very restful sleep though, and I felt much better. The Princess sat on her bed and cleaned her weapons.
“You sleep too much,” she said.
“I have been told that,” I replied. “I don’t recall being a particularly heavy sleeper on my home world, but since I have been here in Ecos, I seem to require more sleep than anyone else around me.”
“Mm,” she replied.
“Do you suppose that my arm has healed yet?” I wondered. It was impossible to recall if it had been splinted for a week or six weeks.
“Probably.” Noriandara Remontar rose and crossed the room. She removed the remaining bits of cloth holding the splint to my ulna, and tossed the makeshift splints aside.
“Can you move it?”
“I haven’t stopped moving it since it was broken.”
“It must not be that bad then,” she replied unsympathetically.
I shrugged and started to clean my own weapons. The cleaning of one’s swords, or if one is not a warrior, one’s equipment in general, was a common Amatharian pass-time. It was a minor disgrace to have damaged or soiled equipment. It seemed that few Amatharians ever reached that state of disgrace, for Amatharian weapons needed little maintenance. Still the cleaning and maintaining of one’s equipment was just what one did during periods of relaxation.
While we were still sitting upon our beds, a flapping noise alerted us to the arrival of the old flyer, who stepped into our room. He now had a sack, tied with string, slung over his neck. After peering at each of us intently, which I took as an avian form of greeting, he removed his burden and opened it up. Inside, he had a collection of fruit much like that which had been given to us on our arrival. We each selected one of the offerings for our breakfast, and the flyer watched us as we ate. When we had finished, he indicated that he should climb up the rope to the top of the building.
Once atop the skyscraper, Noriandara Remontar and I found ourselves in the company of a large group of flyers. It seemed the entire community had turned out to welcome, or at least to examine us. The flyers were divided up into two groups– those who were brightly plumed and those who had relatively plain feathers. I still assumed that the brightly feathered ones were the males of the species. Several of these brightly colored individuals stepped forward and peered at us with what seemed to be a typical avian stare. One of these had a nasty cut across his chest. It had been stitched together with white thread.
“These must be the fellows who were fighting with the Kartags when we came along,” I suggested.
“I was just thinking the same thing,” replied my Amatharian companion.
The elder came forward again. He pointed at the two of us with his two extremities, and then made a sweeping motion toward his fellows.
“He is either welcoming us, or inviting us to join the tribe,” I said.
“I don’t suppose that there is much distinction,” replied Noriandara Remontar, “I doubt that they have many casual visitors up here on this floating little world of theirs.”

Princess of Amathar – Noriandara Remontar

Princess of AmatharNoriandara Remontar is the title character in Princess of Amathar. She is the sister of Norar Remontar, is strikingly beautiful, and Alexander Ashton falls in love with her at first sight, leading to the main plot of the story as he has to rescue her from the Zoasians. I wanted Noriandara to be typical of pulp adventure heroines– beautiful and in danger, but she had to be something more. She turns out to be something more when she and Alexander finally meet.