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The Merchant of Death (Pendragon Series #1) · Read more Lawhead, Stephen - Pendragon Cycle 01 - Taliesin. Read more. 1 Read what critics and fans have tosay about the Pendragon series "The nonstop plot developments keep the many pages turning and readers wanting more. The Lost City of Faar (Book 2 of Pendragon: Journey of an Adventure Through Time and Space)D.J. MacHaleJOURNAL OF AN.

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Pendragon has 21 entries in the series. Pendragon, Books Pendragon ( Series). D.J. MacHale Author (). cover image of The Merchant of Death. Throughout the Pendragon series, D.J. MacHale constantly shows examples of The concept of self identity was prominent throughout the Pendragon series. (Book 10 of Pendragon: Journey of an Adventure Through Time and Space) nephews grow into adults, produced a TV series, and saw the world change in.

MacHale : The Lost City of Faar Pendragon before downloading it in order to gage whether or not it would be worth my time, and all praised The Lost City of Faar Pendragon : 0 of 0 people found the following review helpful. A real tum-tigger By wdwenthusiastBefore I begin, let me say that I'm an adult to give this review some context. I read "The Merchant of Death" Pendragon 1 a couple of weeks before ordering this book. I enjoyed "Merchant".

He's also flawed, though, which makes things interesting. I relate to him better than I relate to Loor. Does she have a flaw? I don't think I've spotted it yet. Overall, I recommend this book with a big smile on my face.

It's a good ride, the characters are endearing, the setting incredible, the themes well developed, and it leaves you wanting more. See you at Grolo's! Last one there downloads the Sniggers! Liked it, didnt love it By AudiobookhoeI recently read the first book in this series, and while there were many things I found problematic, I did enjoy it very much. So I read this book about And Im not going to give an excuse, but the turnout of the book didn't motivate me to write this review.

I think as a Pendragon fan, I enjoyed it, but there were some things I didn't connect with that I connected with better with the original. Why dont I just highlight the pros and the cons. What I liked:I love the new character Vo Spader. Booby wasn't vague in describing that he looked Asian or rather I think it'd be better to state East Asian looking up the fan art confirmed how I saw him.

Very handsome, East Asian, with a big, infectious smile. Im not sure if the author does this intentionally, but I like how Bobby meets characters of color, and it's not an issue, or a racial thing, or even a thing in general.

So far, of the travelers he's met so far, one has been one, one black and a girl and one asian. I like that this heritage isn't just shared amongst only the white folk, where we have to just sit back and be amazed by them. Im being completely sarcastic, but a part of that is true. Vo was very gregarious, and he wasn't written to be or prove anything to the story, he just was. I think I kind of liked the world, but I'll go into the issues with the world building in the cons section.

I think I still like the idea that there isn't just one world out there, I connect with that aspect of it the most. What I didn't connect with:Oh the grammar. Still horrible as ever. I keep wondering why Bobby does all that telling. He's not 3, I think he's capable of structuring his sentences a lot better than the author allows him to.

He goes through such adult situations I cant think of many 14 year olds who saw over bodies sitting dead in their own waste so he should be written with a stronger narrative. I have a feeling all the books in the series will have this issue, but the lovable characters do make up for it. The world building. I couldn't really picture the world. I kept trying to picture it underwater, because a few things they could use from the world functioned, or was exclusively built to function under the water, because there was no dry land in Cloral, aside from a mystery lost island named "Faar.

Sometimes I pictured them to be islands that could float and be steered, other times I pictured them as boats, but I was extremely lost and it didn't slow down to explain it to me. No Loor! While I will agree that this wasn't her world, and it wasn't about her, she's the whole reason I signed up! She made an appearance, and I savored every minute I got to see her, but I want more Loor! With a sudden burst of light from deep inside the flume, his hair caught fire!

His long gray mane exploded in flames, burning right down to his skull. Mark and Courtney watched in horror as the flames reflected in his demonic eyes. Saint Dane laughed the whole while, as if enjoying it. Mark and Courtney didn't move, except to tremble. The fire burned away all of Saint Dane's hair, leaving him completely bald, with angry red streaks that looked like inflamed veins running from the back of his head to his forehead.

His eyes had changed too. The steely blue color had gone nearly white. He tossed a dirty, cloth bag at their feet. With that, he began to transform. His body turned liquid as he leaned over to put his hands on the ground. At the same time his body mutated into that of a huge, jungle cat. It was the size of a lion. His coat was brown, but speckled with black spots. The big cat snarled at Mark and Courtney, and leaped into the flume. An instant later the light swept him up and disappeared into the depths.

The music faded, the crystal walls returned to stone, and the light shrank to a pin spot. But it didn't disappear entirely. Before Mark and Courtney could get their heads back together, the light began to grow again. The music became louder and the gray rock walls transformed back into crystal.

A second later the bright light flashed at the mouth of the tunnel to deposit another passenger before returning to its normal, dormant state.

They ran to him and threw their arms around him in fear and relief. Mark and Courtney were both supercharged with adrenaline. It was horrible! Mark and Courtney sensed his tension. It sounded like he was scolding them. He was wearing rags. His feet were bare, his hair was a mess, and he had a coating of dirt all over his body. He didn't smell so hot either. He was just as charged up as they were. Mark said, "Uh, I g-guess so. I said 'Eelong'--" "No! We can't control the flume.

He's got his first territory. It's all about changing the nature of things. He ran back to the door of the root cellar and picked up the bag Saint Dane had thrown at them. Bobby took it like it was the last thing in the world he wanted. He turned the rotten bag upside down, and something fell onto the floor. Courtney screamed. Mark took a step back in shock. Bobby stood firm, staring at the floor, his jaw muscles clenching. Lying at his feet was a human hand.

It was large and dark skinned. As gruesome as this was, there was something else about it that made it nearly unbearable to look at. On one finger, was a Traveler ring. Bobby took a brave breath, picked up the hand, and jammed it into the bag. He turned back and ran into the mouth of the flume, clutching the bag with Gunny's hand in it. The flume sprang back to life. And whatever you do, donotactivate the flume.

That's exactly what Saint Dane wants. It's not the way things were meant to be. It wasn't a very good beginning. Mark Dimond and Courtney Chetwynde had done exactly what Bobby told them to do. They stayed away from the flume and waited for the arrival of another journal. They waited. And waited. And waited some more. Mark found himself staring at his ring, willing it to activate.

He so desperately wanted a sign that being an acolyte meant more than sitting around like a load, pretending all was normal.

A few times he called Tom Dorney to see if he had gotten any messages from other acolytes. Dorney's answer was always the same: "Nope. No chitchat. Just "Nope. To Mark, he was a man ofoneword.

He sat by himself for an entire day, reading them all, reliving the incredible journey that his best friend had been on for the last year and a half. So much had changed since that winter night when Bobby left Stony Brook with his uncle Press to discover that he was a Traveler, and that his destiny was to protect the territories of Halla. Any record that they had ever existed disappeared right along with them.

More importantly, the curtain was pulled back on the incredible truth that the universe didn't function the way everyone thought. Bobby's journals explained how every time, every place, every person and every thing that had ever existed, still did exist.

It was called Halla. Halla was made up of ten territories that were connected by tunnels called flumes that only the Travelers could use. But the most frightening truth contained in the journals was that an evil Traveler named Saint Dane was doing his best to destroy Halla. Saint Dane would travel to a territory that was about to reach a critical point in its history, and do all that he could to push events the wrong way and send the territory into chaos.

It was up to Bobby and the other Travelers to stop him. They had been pretty successful, too. But then came Veelox. Veelox was a territory doomed to crumble because people chose to live in Lifelight, the wonderful, virtual-reality world created by a supercomputer, instead of in real life.

It marked Saint Dane's first victory over Bobby and the Travelers. Mark worried that the toppling of Veelox meant Saint Dane had even more power than before. He worried that the rules had changed and that the demon would now be more difficult to defeat. He worried that the battle would soon come to Second Earth. He worried that this was the beginning of the end for Halla. Mark worried a lot. He was good at it. And on top of it all, Mark and Courtney were now acolytes. Up to this point their job had been to read Bobby's journals and keep them safe.

Basically they had been librarians. Now they were in it. Being acolytes meant they would support any 10 20 Travelers who came to Second Earth and help them blend in with the local culture. They were psyched and ready for the challenge.

Finally, they had the chance to take an active role in helping Bobby. But in spite of all these exciting and scary developments, it turned out that there was nothing for them to do. Mark felt like an anxious racehorse stuck in a gate that wouldn't open.

He'd walk through the halls of Davis Gregory High, where he was a sophomore, look at the other kids, and think,Do they know the danger we're all in? Do they have any clue that I'm one of the few people in Halla who is trying to protect them? The answer was, of course, no.

To the other kids at school, Mark Dimond was nothing more than a nervous brainiac who ate too many carrots and didn't wash his unkempt, greasy black hair often enough. Guys like Mark were like wallpaper Things weren't going much better for Courtney. Life had changed drastically for her since entering high school.

Courtney had always been the girl who had it all going on. She was pretty, with waist-length brown hair and deep gray eyes. She had lots of friends and, most notably, kicked butt in every sport she played. Courtney was a legend. It didn't matter what sport either: soccer, volleyball, softball, track She even wanted to play football, but the rules wouldn't allow it. But since coming to Davis Gregory High, things had changed. Courtney wasn't the best anymore. Maybe it was because the other girls caught up.

Maybe it was because she never had to try very hard, and it was paying off for those who did. Or maybe it was because she had lost something intangible. The spark. The magic. The result was that Courtney looked bad. In soccer she was demoted from varsity to JV and then quit the team. That was big. Courtney never quit anything. But she quit soccer. She 11 21 sought refuge in volleyball, her favorite sport.

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But things weren't any better. Courtney didn't even make the team. She got cut. Courtney had never been cut. It was humiliating. At first the other kids were happy to see the queen dethroned, but after a while they started feeling bad for her. Courtney didn't want pity. That was the worst.

If there was one word you could use to describe Courtney Chetwynde, it was "confident. It affected the rest of her life too. Her grades took a nosedive; she stopped hanging with her best friends; and she fought with her parents. She hated their constant, worried looks that silently asked, "What's wrong with you? It was eating her up. But Courtney wasn't totally self-absorbed. She knew her troubles were puny compared to the bigger dangers lurking about. Bobby Pendragon, the guy she'd had a crush on since she was four years old, was flying around the universe battling an evil demon who wanted nothing less than the destruction of everything.

Courtney realized that on a scale of one to ten where ten was the worst, getting cut from volleyball was around negative forty. Knowing this, Courtney felt guilty when she worried about her own little problems. But she couldn't help it, which made her feel worse. She couldn't control events in Halla; she could only deal with her own life Mark and Courtney were an odd couple.

Under normal circumstances they would never have been on each others' radar. Shy nerds didn't hang with awesome jock girls. It was one of the realities of high school. But these two were joined by their friendship with Bobby. They knew Saint Dane had to be stopped and were prepared to do whatever it took to help their friend.

But 12 22 after months of being acolytes, they hadn't done a single thing that had anything to do with life outside of boring old Stony Brook, Connecticut. It was making them absolutely, totally crazy. The only thing that kept Mark from going off the deep end was the Sci-Clops science club at school.

The summer before, Mark had designed and built a battling robot for the state science fair. He won first prize and got an invitation to join the prestigious club. Mark wasn't used to being rewarded for doing something that was usually considered geek territory, so he welcomed the chance.

Mark found that Sci-Clops was full of brilliant students who shared his curiosity about the world around them. A Sci-Clops meeting was a minivacation from the relentless social pressure of high school. It also helped get his mind off the imminent destruction of the universe. Four months to the day after they saw Bobby and Saint Dane at the flume, Mark anxiously watched the clock tick toward the end of the school day. Pike, the teacher who led Sci-Clops, promised that a special guest would be speaking that day, and Mark was dying to know who it might be.

When the bell rang, he gathered his books and walked quickly toward the science wing. He hurried across the student center, entered the science wing, and was halfway up the back stairwell when his day began to unravel. Standing on the landing, smoking a cigarette, was Andy Mitchell. The word "hate" shouldn't be used lightly.

Mark hated Andy Mitchell. From the time they were little, Mitchell bullied Mark. It was the classic scenario: smart nerd vs. Mark would stress over taking alternate routes around school to avoid crossing paths with him. Encounters 13 23 invariably ended up with a punch in the arm, or an Indian burn or, as they got older, the threat of serious violence. Their relationship came to a head when Mitchell stole Bobby's Traveler journals.

Mark and Courtney cleverly got them back and nearly got Mitchell arrested in the process. Having finally beaten Mitchell gave Mark a bit more confidence in dealing with the imbecile, but he still preferred not to. Mark ignored Mitchell and walked past him up the stairs. He fully expected Mitchell to grab him for some obligatory noogie-type humiliation. Instead Mitchell stubbed out his cigarette and followed.

Mark stopped and whipped him a look. Mark could smell the cigarettes on his breath. He turned and started up the stairs again. Mitchell followed. Mark stopped and spun back. You gonna shove me in a locker or ask for money or On the list of answers Mark expected, this was below last.

It was so far from last, it was in another state. Mark stared in shock, waiting for a punch line that didn't come. We going to experiment on you? Had he heard right?

Was the dreaded Andy Mitchell, professional ignoramus, truly asked to join the elite l4 24 science club? Andy Mitchell was a moron, and that was paying him a compliment.

Pike must have gotten Andy Mitchell mixed up with somebody else. Sci-Clops was made up of science brains who had dreams of attending MIT. Andy Mitchell was a lamebrain who dreamed about being old enough to download beer and getting a tattoo. Mark concluded that it had to be a mistake. Don't want to be late for your first meeting.

The two continued up the stairs to the physics floor. Mark couldn't wait to see Mitchell's reaction when the mistake was discovered. Wishing total humiliation for someone wasn't exactly noble, but after the years of havoc Andy Mitchell rained down on the dweebs of Stony Brook, he deserved it.

When they entered Mr. Pike's classroom, most of the SciClops members were already sitting and waiting to begin. They were a precise bunch. Mark took a seat in the back of the room because he was still one of the newer members. Unlike the bus where the cool kids sat in back, in Sci-Clops the senior members sat right up front.

It was one of the many things Mark liked about the club. Andy Mitchell, on the other hand, chose a seat in the first row like he owned the place. Mark loved it. He couldn't wait until Mr. Pike called him out. It was every dweeb's dream come true. Twenty against one. An excellent nerd vs. Pike walked to the front of the class. He was a pleasant-looking guy who Mark figured was in his thirties, with longish hair that was starting to go gray.

Mark hoped he would have opened up by kicking Andy Mitchell's butt out of the room. But he was willing to wait. He knew it would only be a matter of time. Mark wasn't exactly sure what that was. The only tensile he knew about was the kind you put on Christmas trees. Whenever Mark wasn't sure about something at a meeting, he'd nod and pretend to understand. That was okay; he liked learning new things.

The trick was not to look like an idiot and try to figure it out as they went along. So let's get right to it. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Andy Mitchell. They were too busy applauding. He watched in shock as Andy Mitchell stood in front of the group and started digging into his backpack.

Mark's brain wouldn't accept this. He looked around, expecting to see some guy in a suit and tie jump out with a microphone and shout, "Surprise! Candid Camera! Mark nearly puked. Andy said, "I ain't great at giving speeches. I only know what I know. He knows nothing! He's an idiot! We're cool here. Just be yourself.

Most of the Sci-Clops members were juniors and seniors, so he figured they didn't know Andy Mitchell. But they were going to get to know him real fast. Mark was sure this charade would end as quickly as it began.

Pike announced, "Andy is a sophomore here, but he attends science classes in a special program at the University of Connecticut. You won't see me in any of your AP courses. Mark squeezed the desk in anger. They liked him! They thought he was clever! This can't be happening! Andy Mitchell smart? Attending college science courses and researching subjects Mark never even heard of? Bantering with the Sci-Clops crowd? Mark had heard people say: "I thought I was dreaming," but always thought it was just a saying.

He never thought anyone could really think they were dreaming. But right then, Mark seriously wondered if he was in dreamland.

Andy Mitchell reached into his backpack and pulled out a small, soft silver bag that looked like the kind of bag his mother used to put things in the freezer. It ain't. The silver bag stretched out as wide as his arms would reach.

The kids gasped. I could probably put a piano in here and it wouldn't break. His mind locked. His mouth hung open. If anybody looked at him, they'd call for an ambulance. The kids of Sci-Clops applauded. Andy beamed. Mark didn't think he could take any more And that's when his ring started to twitch. He didn't react at first. He was too busy being stunned.

But a second later, when the ring began to grow, he was yanked 17 27 back to reality. It was the bright light that started to flash from the gray stone that did it. It was a good thing he was sitting in the back of the room because nobody else saw it. He quickly clamped his hand over the ring. Every one of the Sci-Clops members turned to look at Mark. Mark felt like he was in one of those dreams where you suddenly discovered you were only wearing underpants.

I'm fine," Mark stammered. He stood up, caught his foot on the leg of the desk, and nearly tumbled over. Pike asked. Mark could feel the ring growing on his finger. In a second everythingwouldn'tbe all right. He didn't care what he looked like. He had to get out of there. He sprinted down the hallway, gasping for breath, and blasted through the doors back to the stairway. It was too late to find anywhere more private. He pulled off his ring, put it on the floor and stepped back.

It was already the size of a bracelet and still growing. The gray stone shot out lights that lit up the stairway like a storm of sparklers. The ring grew to the size of a Frisbee. Mark saw the dark opening in the center that he knew was a portal to the territories. The light show was followed by the familiar jumble of musical notes that grew louder, as if they were coming closer. Because they were.

A brilliant light flashed out of the hole that forced Mark to cover his eyes. He had been through this before. He didn't have to see. A second later it was over.

The music was gone, the lights stopped flashing, and the ring returned to normal. Mark looked at the floor. He was close to hyperventilating. In that moment, all l8 28 the waiting, all the frustration, all the anxiety of the last few months washed away. He didn't even care that Andy Mitchell was now addressing his beloved Sci-Clops. That's because sitting on the floor next to his ring was a rolled-up piece of parchment paper tied with a piece of green, plantlike twine.

Mark looked at it for a moment, just to make sure it was real. After what he had been through over the last few minutes, he wasn't sure anything was real. He reached into his backpack and pulled out the cell phone his parents had given him for the holidays.

It was only supposed to be used in emergencies. This qualified. He hit 1 on his speed dial and listened. After a few seconds Bobby Pendragon. I know, I've said that a million times before. But here on Eelong I'm faced with something that is way different than anything I've ever had to deal with. As I'm writing this, I can honestly say I don't know what to do. This isn't about being afraid, or being confused about Traveler stuff or even about finding Saint Dane.

Finding him is the least of my worries. My problem is that, unlike Cloral or Denduron or Veelox or the Earth territories, the intelligent beings that inhabit the territory of Eelong aren't normal. I know what you're thinking: has anyone I've run into since leaving home even come close to being considered normal? Not really. But here on Eelong, the inhabitants may be a lot of things, but there is one thing they definitely are not.

Yeah, you read right. They're not human. I've got to figure out what the turning point is here and stop Saint Dane just like on the other territories, but how can I do that when I can't communicate with the very people I'm supposed to help?

This is impossible! I've been on the run from the first moment I 20 30 landed here. I'm in constant danger, and the scariest part is that my biggest threat isn't Saint Dane--it's the inhabitants of Eelong. How wrong is that? It gets worse. Saint Dane told you that the rules have changed, right? Well, I can't say for sure what that means, but I think he's right.

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From the moment I left Veelox, I felt as if things were different. In some ways, I'm starting over. It's not a good feeling.

But I've got to calm down, take a breath, and write this journal. This may be the only chance I'll get. I don't mean to sound dramatic, butI am really, really scared. Where to begin? It already seems like a lifetime ago that I was on Veelox with Aja Killian. I've lost all track of real time. Jumping between territories will do that. A day in one territory isn't always twenty-four hours in another. What year is this? What month? What century? I'm totally lost. I gotta get a grip.

Let me go back to where I finished my last journal and pick up my story from there. So much has happened, I hope I can remember all the details. Aja Killian and I stood together in the dark, subterranean room that held the flume on Veelox, not sure of what to say to each other. Her normally well-kept blond hair was kind of a mess.

I know that doesn't sound all that weird, but for somebody like Aja, who is all about being perfect, it was a huge statement. It was a tough moment because no matter how you cut it, we had lost. The Reality Bug had failed. No, worse than that. It had nearly killed every last person on Veelox. Calling it a failure is kind of an understatement.

The virtual-reality computer called Lifelight was back online and most everybody on Veelox had jumped back inside to live in their own personal fantasy worlds. There was nobody left in reality to 21 31 grow food, to maintain buildings, to uphold the law, or to do the million and one other basic things that a civilization needs to function.

It would only be a matter of time before the territory itself began to fall apart. Bottom line was, Saint Dane had won his first territory. I couldn't let him win another, so staying on Veelox wasn't an option. Good question. Maybe I was too tired. Maybe I was drained after having snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. I could even say that I was in too much of a hurry to find Gunny. All that was true.

But as I think back, I believe the real reason was because I was too embarrassed to admit defeat. Especially to you guys. I still don't know why I was chosen to be a Traveler, but I've been around the block enough times now to realize that whether I liked it or not, the job was mine.

On Veelox, I had done a lousy job. I was angry, frustrated, and a little bit scared, because I didn't know what losing a territory was going to mean in the battle against Saint Dane.

My head was not in a good place. She took off her small, yellow glasses and cleaned them on her sleeve. Aja hated to admit defeat even more than I did. She was a brilliant computer scientist who never failed at anything she tried, until now. Too bad it had been the most important challenge of her life. When we fail, we fail together.

I was as much to blame as Aja. Every time I had gone to a territory for the first time, I had another Traveler with me. But it wouldn't have been right to take Aja away from Veelox. No, this time I had to fly solo. I was suddenly missing Uncle Press a whole bunch.

Remember, this is about all of Halla, not just Veelox. Saint Dane hasn't won yet. Anything can happen. To be honest, I wasn't sure about that at all. But I had to give Aja hope. She grabbed me and hugged me close.

It took me totally by surprise because Aja wasn't normally an affectionate person. But she held me so tight--it made me realize that telling her there was still hope was like throwing a lifeline to a drowning person.

She needed to hear that, whether it was the truth or not. I hugged back. I liked Aja. I felt bad that she was hurting. But I was hurting too. Hugging her felt good. I guess misery loves company. She pulled back from me. I looked into her deep, blue eyes. They once again flashed with the confidence I remembered from when we first met. Aja wasn't the type to feel sorry for herself for long. She had too much brass for that. Aja leaned forward and kissed me on the cheek.

She held 23 33 her cheek against mine for a second longer and said, "I believe you. I have to admit, it felt kind of good. My time on Veelox was over. I was on the wrong territory. I backed away from Aja and took two steps into the mouth of the flume. As I stood there staring into the infinite black void, my thoughts went to what I might find next.

Truth was, I had no idea. Eelong was a total mystery. Gunny had left for Eelong only a few days before, in pursuit of Saint Dane. The plan was for him to get a quick look around and then meet me back on Veelox. He never returned. That could only mean trouble. So I had to flume to a new territory, alone, and be prepared to face whatever nastiness prevented Gunny from coming back. I suddenly wanted to step back out of the flume and hug Aja again. But that would have blown whatever small bit of cool I had managed to build.

The tunnel instantly came to life. The stone walls cracked and groaned; a distant pin spot of light appeared and the sweet magical jumble of notes could faintly be heard. They were coming to take me away. The stone walls of the tunnel began to dissolve to crystal as the light grew brighter and the music grew louder. But other than making Aja feel better, what I thought didn't matter.

Veelox was then. The battle was moving to Eelong. A second later I was lifted off my feet and launched through the flume. Next stop, Eelong.

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I still had no clue as to what a flume actually was, or why they were able to send Travelers through time and space, but the experience was awesome.

It was like floating through space on a bed of light. It was the closest you could get to playing Superman. But this time something was different. It wasn't a physical difference. The ride felt the same as always. The difference was with what I saw. I was surrounded by the usual star field, but there was something else.

Something more.

Beyond the crystal walls of the flume, I saw floating images. As I flew along, I'd see something far in the distance, then whip past it and watch it disappear behind me. The images were nearly transparent, which meant I could see the stars behind them like they were ghosts on the edge of becoming solid. Some looked to be my size, others were so huge it took me a few seconds to move past them. Some I even recognized.

I saw a Bedoowan knight from Denduron on horseback, galloping through space. I saw what looked to be a school of swimmers in green swimskins from the underwater city of Faar, moving in formation. I saw a tall building that could have been the Manhattan Tower Hotel and an aquaneer on a skimmer from Cloral, riding the sky. Other images I didn't recognize. There were two giant men who looked like twins, running across the sky. They looked powerful, though somewhat stiff, as if they were mechanical.

I saw a vast field of people wearing nothing but rags. They were all raising their open hands into the air in some common gesture that looked like they were cheering. I also saw a huge, 25 35 spotted jungle cat charging across the field of stars.

None of this was scary. In fact, it was kind of cool. It was like kicking back and watching a bunch of weird movies projected in space. But the more I saw, the more it bothered me. Why was it happening? What had changed? What did the strange images mean? I couldn't help but think back to what Saint Dane had warned. He said that once the first territory fell, the rest would fall like dominos. I didn't want to be paranoid or anything, but since Saint Dane had finally toppled a territory, I worried that there might have been some grand, cosmic change in Halla.

I didn't get the chance to stress about it for long because the musical notes began to play quickly. I was at the end of my trip. My thoughts turned to Eelong. Was I about to be dumped into a pool of water, like on Cloral? Would there be quigs waiting for me, licking their chops because the dinner bell had just rung? A few seconds later the flume gently deposited me on my feet.

Nothing dramatic at all. That was the good news. Bad news was that I was instantly engulfed in a tangle of thick, sticky ropes. At least I thought they were ropes. For all I knew it was a massive web and the quigs on Eelong were hungry spiders. But I didn't want to believe the worst, so I pushed my way through the dense tangle of ropes.

I came out on the far side to find myself standing in a cave. A quick three-sixty showed me it was a grand, underground cavern with a high ceiling. Light leaked through random cracks high above.

The ropes I had pushed through turned out to be a curtain of thick vines that cascaded down from the ceiling and covered the mouth of the flume. Roots were good. Way better than spiderweb. The cavern 26 36 was full of these long, green sticky roots that covered the rock walls.

I took a few steps toward the center, still on high alert. But there were no gangsters, no quigs, no pools of water, and no Saint Dane.

So far, so good. I looked back to the flume to see it was hidden by the dense curtain of roots. I dug an arrow into the dirt floor with my heel, pointing to it. I wasn't taking any chances if I had to bolt out of there fast.

In the dead center of the cavern was a large flat rock. Lying on it was something I wasn't happy to see. It was a pile of clothing. As you know, acolytes put clothing at the flumes for visiting Travelers. According to the Traveler rules, I had to dress in these clothes.

No problem, right? The clothing on this rock was nothing more than a pile of dirty rags. I'm not exaggerating. At first I thought that's what they were. But when I lifted one up, I saw that it was a crudely made pair of cloth pants.

It wasn't exactly soft, either. It felt like rough burlap. I picked up what looked like a shirt. I wasn't really sure at first, because I saw one sleeve and a hole that I thought would go around your neck, but the rest was in tatters.

Not exactly something you'd find on the rack at the Gap. And they smelled, too. Like bad BO. Is there such a thing asgoodBO? I also found some crude shoes made of cloth. I knew they were shoes because they were sort of foot-shaped with extra layers on the bottom. This was not good. I looked around, hoping there might be some other clothes that were a little less nasty, and saw something that made my heart jump.

Lying on the ground next to the rock, neatly folded, was a black suit with a white shirt and a large pair of leather shoes. These were the clothes he'd worn when he left me on Veelox. There was no mistake; I was in the right place in the 27 37 wrong clothes.

I had to change. Those were the rules.