Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer

Book: Far-Seer by Robert J. Sawyer Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert J. Sawyer
chant. “Our obedience. And that we give with joy.”
    They rocked together for the rest of the brief night. Even though it was even-night, when many of them should have been sleeping, they pressed on in their worship, the ship rolling back and forth along the waves, the sails snapping in the steady wind.
    When dawn came, the sun rose in the east directly out of where the Godglow had been, its blue light replacing the yellow radiance. They took turns scanning the eastern horizon, the tiny, furiously bright sun tracking across the sky, but no more Godglow was to be seen. That night it returned, and ship’s priest Det-Bleen led them through many prayers, but it wasn’t until shortly before sunset the following day that Dybo’s voice went up again. “There!” he cried, loud enough for all to hear above the sounds of the ship, the thunder of the waves. “There! The Face of God!”
    All eyes turned to the eastern horizon. The assembled group cast long shadows in front of themselves on the deck as the sun lowered to touch the waters behind them.
    At the very edge of the eastern horizon a tiny point of yellow appeared. A few individuals gasped. Afsan was content simply to stare in wonder. It took most of the night before there was more than just a point, before there was something that had a discernible shape. It soon became clear to Afsan that he was seeing the leading edge of a vast, circular object.
    According to Captain Var-Keenir, they would have to travel four thousand kilopaces more before the Face would clear the horizon. Tacking alternately port and starboard, that would take thirty-two days, the Face rising by just three percent of its total height for each day of sailing.
    Time passed. The Dasheter continued east. The Face crawled up the sky from the horizon, a vertically striped dome growing wider and wider. It swirled with colors, yellow and brown and red and mixes of those in every imaginable combination: oranges and beiges and rusts, pale shades like dead vegetation, deep shades like fresh blood, dark shades like the richest soil.
    Every morning, the sun emerged from behind the Face, a tiny blue point rising up into the sky, the Face illuminated only along its upper edge as the sun rose from it, as if from behind a vast round hill on the horizon.
    It was a glorious double dawn, the top of the Face lighting up as the sun rose over it. As the day progressed, illumination pulled downward over the Face like an iridescent eyelid sliding shut over a dark orb.
    Each day, dawn came a little later, the sun having to climb higher to clear the spreading dome of the Face of God. Afsan took advantage of the prolonged nights to do more observing.
    That the Face was not always fully lit fascinated Afsan. In the afternoon and at night, it was indeed a bright dome on the horizon, but every morning only its upper edge was illuminated, a thin line arching up from where the water met the sky, the part of the Face beneath the line dim and violet.
    And sometimes none of the Face was lit at all.
    It didn’t take Afsan long to figure out what was happening, but the thought staggered him nonetheless.
    The Face of God, the very countenance of his creator, went through phases, just as the moons did, and, as he had seen through the far-seer, just as some of the planets did.
    Phases, waxing vertically from top to bottom. Part lit, part dark.
    The Face of God continued to rise, broadening each day, a vast dome lifting from the distant waves, until at long last, eighteen days after Dybo had first spotted the Godglow, the Face’s widest part cleared the horizon. That event, too, was marked by a prayer ceremony. It was mid-afternoon and the Face’s entire visible hemisphere was illuminated: a half circle, a vertically striped dome, standing where the River met the sky.
    Afsan retained enough of his astrologer’s senses to gauge the object’s size: some fifty times the width of an outstretched thumb. He looked to the east and held

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