“It’s magic glass,” replied Saba, holding up a small square of very dark but very shiny material.
“This conversation sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale. Did you trade your magic beans to get this magic glass?”
“Don’t be silly Mr. Korlann. I didn’t have any magic beans and this cost me 75P.”
“Good heavens. Why would you pay 75 pfennigs for that?”
“For the eclipse.”
“Sure. There’s an eclipse today. Almost a full one. If we were in the channel it would be full. It would get dark in the middle of the day.”
“Oh yes, yes. It was in the paper. I imagine it will be spectacular enough right here in Brech City. But what is the glass for?”
“Haven’t you ever heard that you shouldn’t stare at an eclipse because you’ll go blind?”
“I can’t tell you how much that has worried me since I found that out,” said Saba. “I’m always afraid that I might accidentally look at the sun and it would be just my luck that there was an eclipse going on right then and I would go blind.”
“Well, first off, there’s nothing special about an eclipse that is worse on your eyes. Stare at the sun anytime, eclipse or no, and you risk damage to your…”
“Anyway,” the boy interrupted. “I got this glass so I can watch the eclipse. You can stare at it all day through this and not get blinded. Can’t see a bloody thing through it now though.” He tried to look at the head butler through the small pane held to his right eye.
“Let’s hope it really works,” said Zeah skeptically. “I trust you bought it from a reputable dealer.”
“Sure. I got it at the potion shop on Avenue Phoenix. They’re selling loads of them. If it doesn’t work, they’ll be hip deep in angry blind people.”
* * * * *
“It’s almost time now, Pet,” said Zurfina looking at the sun, through the tiny window high up on the wall.
Nils Chapman was crawling on his knees next to her. Shaking and twitching uncontrollably, he no longer had the ability to stand on his own. This didn’t bother him because he no longer had the ability to think on his own either. He crawled along on all fours drooling like a dog to the center of the cell.
Zurfina peeled off the filthy rags that had been her only clothing since she had been brought to this hellhole one thousand nine hundred eighty-four days before. She tossed them aside and sat down cross-legged in the center of the cell. Chapman pressed against her, but she pushed him away. Closing her eyes, she began to chant.
“Uuthanum, uuthanum, uuthanum, uuthanum.” She repeated the word over and over again. Twenty times. A hundred times. Slowly the room became darker and darker. She continued to chant. The eclipse was at his height.
Chapman screamed. Zurfina opened her eyes and smiled. The four walls were walls no more. They were shining, rippling, silvery surfaces like the surface of frighteningly cold and deep water. Sounds could be heard from the other side—freakish, awful piping noises that tugged at one’s sanity. Then the surface directly in front of her bubbled and churned, touched by something on the other side of that boundary between the cell and the abyss beyond.
“Yes!” Zurfina screamed. Then she began reciting a new set of words. “Uuathanum eetarri. Uuthanum eetarri. Uuthanum blechtore. Uuthanum blechtore. Uuthanum maiius.”