03. Gods at the Well of Souls

03. Gods at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker

Book: 03. Gods at the Well of Souls by Jack L. Chalker Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jack L. Chalker
months of  volcanic rock and soil; the day-to-day life of climbing for treetop delicacies  and over the craggy rocks had bulked out his muscles. 
     
    Terry had not been as active of late, for she'd developed a large, hard belly  and some considerable fat and felt unbalanced and odd, but she accepted it as  the way things were. Part of the Glathrielian Way was acceptance of whatever was  and dealing with it as best one could. 
     
    This proved difficult suddenly, though, when they were awakened one morning just  at dawn by a series of severe tremors. The ground shook, and trees swayed, and  rocks fell from the high mountain. This went on for a day or more, and suddenly  a huge piece of the mountain about halfway up the side seemed to collapse,  opening a gaping wound from which belched forth steam and black ash. Then  beginning what seemed a wondrous light show, a volcanic fountain played against  the sky. But the earthquakes continued in increasing frequency and intensity,  and from the masses of grainy rock laid down by the fountain there came puffs  and plumes of smoke and ash that set part of the forest on fire. They made their way around to the beach on the opposite side of the mountain  from the eruption, having to stop or risk falling down with each tremor.  Something inside them knew that they had to leave this place, and quickly. But  leave for where? And how? There was nothing on all sides but the water. There were other islands, of course, some of which could be seen across the  expanse of sea, but they were not as close as they appeared. None would be a  problem to reach with a boat or a raft, but they had nothing but themselves. An  inner sense of urgency told them that there was little time to consider any  alternatives. Reluctantly, they entered the water and made their way out past  the reefs, Brazil using his strength to support Terry and keep her afloat. They made it to perhaps a kilometer from the beach and found themselves suddenly  carried along on a warm current, able to pretty much just float and let the  water do the work, which was more than welcome. The current carried them at a  steady pace away from the erupting island and toward the calmer ones beyond. Then a sudden, tremendous explosion hit them like something solid, deafening  them both, and they could see the onrushing wall of water from where the island,  now a vast and dark mushroom-shaped cloud, had been, a huge tidal wave coming  straight for them. It was taller than the tallest trees and with a roar that  sounded like thousands of caged beasts roaring at once, and they stopped  swimming and watched it come, knowing it was death. 
     
    When it struck, their world became all water and whirling forces and then  oblivion. 
     
    The Well had issued its wake-up call to Nathan Brazil. 
     
      
     
    The island exploding, the rushing wall of water, then . .. What? She awoke as if from some strange dream, much of which had been very nice yet  only dimly remembered, like some great childhood treat now far in the past and  unrecoverable. 
     
    But watch that last step, she thought. It's a dilly. 
     
    She sat up painfully, groaning and stretching. She felt as if she'd been beaten  to a pulp by some gigantic fist, but just as everything seemed bruised, nothing  seemed broken. 
     
    The beach was warm and wet. It was made of yellow sand, the kind built up from  the discards of coral reefs over thousands upon thousands of years, but it was  soft and somewhat comfortable. 
     
    She shook her head, trying to clear it, trying to think. She remembered a  tremendous bang and a big wave but nothing afterward. 
     
    And nothing before. 
     
    It was as if she'd just suddenly come into existence here on this beach. A big  bang and here she was. 
     
    It was quite dark, but out in the water she could see a million lights  underneath the gentle waves, burning with a multitude of colors and shapes and  patterns

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