There is a space at the bottom of the world, where Earth and Ice and Shadow meet. It is cold, but not cold enough to kill; dark, but not too dark to see. A small round room, made of chilly black marble, lit by a dim and sourceless glow, with a spiral stair climbing the curve of the wall and a shallow circular recession in the exact center of the floor. The recession is maybe six feet wide by six inches deep, lined with something resembling pale frosted glass, and there is nothing in it.
"It's much more reversible and less of a hassle and has less collateral damage than my normal method of causing things to cease to exist!"
"I don't know if it can get as abstract though. Maybe we will find somebody with weeds and we shall see. Were we going to find me a messenger?"
He gets the swoop in the air.
"It's a few hours to First City from here, and then we can stop and find you a messenger and you can send them and we can continue on to Wildwood."
Nod nod. "Is sourcing blood likely to be a constraint?"
"What variety of blood, specifically?"
"Any mammal is fine. Sheep is customary but not necessary."
"Yeah, that'll take like ten minutes unless you want enough to swim in, in which case I may have to get creative."
"I need like a bucketful, and there will be leftovers but if you try to skimp I might run out and then the design dries while more is fetched and that's no good."
"A bucketful will not be a problem."
"Good. And for the ash part charcoal works."
"I should start writing a letter for the messenger to carry." He starts that.
And Riale flies the swoop. The shadows of the three floating continents slide across the landscape with the rising of the sun. Soon enough, the swoop is out from under them; and not long after that, the dry rocky hills they're flying over give way to flatter, wetter ground, and First City is clearly visible up ahead.
Cor writes and draws and finally has a complete letter.
When Riale lands the swoop at the palace, someone comes out to meet them as they're settling onto the landing pad. It's the same guy who directed Cor to Vira yesterday.
"Morning, Simm!" says Riale. "I thought you didn't have enough mayhem in your lives without me, so I came back for a visit."
"Yeah, I missed you too," says Simm. "I see the bizarre emergency caught up with you. Hello, bizarre emergency. What can the imperial staff do for you today?"
"I am looking to send someone to my home world to notify my guildmates that it's possible to go to other worlds and they should probably do that since our world is ending," Cor says.
"For which purpose he will need a bucket of blood and a volunteer. Would you like to volunteer?"
"A bucket of—?"
"Blood, any mammal's will do, better to have too much than too little but it needn't be a bathtub's worth, I don't imagine it'll be hard to come by. And somebody willing to hop over to a world that is currently in the process of ending, with the understanding that it's likely but not certain you'll be able to come back."
"...All right," says Simm. "Is there anyone else you want to ask first—?"
"Since you're the one who came out to greet us I assume you currently have the most free time of anyone in the palace. If you won't do it I'll go find Evai Miato."
"No, no, I'll do it," says Simm. "Where do I meet you with the bucket of blood?"
"Criteria for the location from which you do the sending?" Riale asks Cor.
"Decent amount of flat floor suitable for drawing patterns on with blood - so like, no grout, nothing that stains really easily, no complicated patterns with warm colors, definitely not carpet..."
"Hmm. Would 'big flat slab of rock, will probably pick up some stains but we can always replace it afterward' do?"
"That courtyard on the north end with the big maple tree, next to the storage rooms that used to be a bathhouse," he tells Simm.
"I know the one you mean. I'll meet you there in a quarter hour or less."
"See you. And thanks."
"Welcome," says Simm, and off he goes.
Riale leads the way to the courtyard. "The storage rooms are, uh, full of things, but you happen to be equipped with a convenient solution to that problem," he says.
"So I am! I can book all the things and you can put them back after."