BOOK EXCERPT: The Silk Palace -- By Colin Harvey

The Silk Palace


Colin Harvey

In the distance were a score of what Bluestocking thought were spherical buildings. They were the strangest things she'd seen since the Floating Towers at Lake Mairain. When they drew close, Bluestocking saw people scurrying around the structures. Each globe was taller than ten tall men. The globes were huge spherical bags, each painted like a playground attraction in gaudy reds, blues and yellows, while beneath hung a basket, crammed with people, moored to steps leading down to a gantry.

Several men guarded each gantry. They moved away from one, untethering the basket. The huge bag rose gracefully and, to Bluestocking, terrifyingly, up the side of the rock. Each basket was held tight on its course by a thin wire that ran skyward from the scaffold at perhaps fifteen degrees from vertical. Bluestocking's gut knotted with fear. She could see no other way of reaching the summit; and could not possibly sit in such a contraption without dying of terror.

A long metal tube poked up into the gap at the bottom of the bag. An attendant stretched up and dropped something into the tube. After a few seconds, a blue-white flame blazed out of the top of the tube with a whoosh, visible even through the thin material of the bag. It looked so hot that for a moment, Bluestocking thought it would set fire to the bag.

Oh, she thought. Balefire; that's how they do it, Of course, no ordinary flame would burn bright, and strong enough. I suppose the bag's safe– they must practice constantly to perfect the dosage. A mantra ran through her head– you can do this, you can overcome your fear; you can do this.

Novels from Swimming Kangaroo Books:
Lightning Days -- SF, Finalist for the USA Book News Awards
The Silk Palace -- "compelling" Library Journal
"Intrigues, betrayals, murders, love affairs, transformations, and
revelations," Bruce Boston, author of The Guardener's Tale

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