Mirrorscape

Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks Read Free Book Online

Book: Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks Read Free Book Online
Authors: Mike Wilks
Tags: Fiction
bed and examined the box by the light of the candle.
    It was made of some veined material that he had never seen before, as dark as old pewter but with murky swirls of colour, forming the tiniest picture he had ever seen. It represented the inside of a cave, looking outwards. There were sharp rocks on the floor pointing upwards and others on the ceiling pointing down. Beyond the mouth of the cavern he could see a landscape, veiled in mist, stretching away to jagged, snow-capped mountains. There were stars in the evening sky but they described no constellation that he could recognise. On the cave floor a strange plant grew and in the folds of its leaves nestled an egg. Mel was astounded at the fine detail.
    He turned it over in his hand but could see no wayof opening it. He was about to give up when he pressed both ends at once and the lid popped open. There was powder inside it, every colour of the rainbow all at once. It glowed with a beautiful iridescence as he turned the box in the candlelight. He raised the box to his nose experimentally but could detect only a faint, metallic odour. Mel licked his finger and dipped it into the powder. He put this to his tongue and tentatively tasted it. It was bitter. Perhaps it’s poison . With horror, he remembered where he had stolen it from. He cried out and immediately spat it on to the floor. He watched in amazement as the blob of multicoloured spit swirled this way and that on the bare boards and then seemed to writhe more purposefully. It began to form a miniature picture all by itself: a view of Kop! Incredulous, he grabbed the candle so that he could examine this marvel closer when there came a knock at his door.
    â€˜Mel?’
    Mel just had time to snap the box shut, hide it behind his back and place his foot over the gently moving stain before Dirk Tot’s face peered around the door.
    â€˜Are you all right? I thought I heard you call out.’
    â€˜Oh, it was just a spider. It startled me, that’s all.’ Mel was becoming a practised liar.
    The giant glanced around the low-ceilinged bedroom. ‘You’re not in Kop any more, Mel. You’ve got some growing up to do and you’d better do it fast. Goodnight.’
    Hurt and angry, Mel wanted to answer back, don’t talk to me like that, traitor, or I’ll tell … Who? He was not in Kop any more. He was all on his own.
    As soon as the sound of Dirk Tot’s footsteps had vanished down the hall, Mel removed his foot. There was now just a many-coloured smear on the floor. Did I imagine it? He was puzzled but also weary. He blew out his candle and climbed into bed. Sleep overtook him almost instantly.
    In the morning there was no trace left of the stain.
    Mel would have liked to examine his box and its strange contents further but the inns they rested at each night were busier so he had to share rooms with Yan and Hennink.
    After they had been travelling for five days, therecame a rapping on the carriage roof and Yan’s voice shouting, ‘Vlam ahead, sir.’
    Mel looked out of the window. What he saw took his breath away. They had crested the brow of a hill, one of a long chain of hills that spread away in a great loop on each side all the way to the horizon. Nestled in the hollow within this vast natural amphitheatre were many farms, fields and orchards that became more numerous as they approached the centre. Right in the middle lay their destination. Roads snaked towards Vlam from every direction, vanishing into the city walls through grand arches. These thoroughfares were crowded with people and vehicles. The buildings that flanked these roads became denser as they neared the city. A wide river and many smaller canals entered through other, broader openings. Mel made out barges and sailing ships. Yet more boats sailed high above them, entering on tall, stilted aqueducts over the city walls. Spaced at intervals around the walls were tall towers, on top of which were peculiar

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