They walked into an elevator.

It was clean and in good condition, very familiar and claustrophobic at the same time. Instead of an array of buttons, there was only one.

“This seems pretty uncompromising,” Terence said to the capybara. “Does this look familiar?”

“Outside of it looking like an elevator, no. But it’s getting dark out there.”

“And the door evidently doesn’t close until you press the button.”

Dr. Ransom pressed the button.



They sat in a council of war in one of the break rooms in Hell. It was significant to note that the rooms were not all alike: the level of undrinkable coffee in the pot was not the same, and the arrangement of the crap in the vending machines varied. It meant that they had not simply been walking in a circle. It did lead open the possibility that this awful office building might be infinite in extent.


Jeanette toppled through the portal and the light was bright white. But an instant later the cold wind smacked her in the face and wriggled down inside her inadequate clothing. So much for wishes, she thought--but it got still colder, and she thought of nothing but the cold.


While asleep in a warm soft bed in the palace, Jeanette had a dream:

She was back in one of the identical offices in Hell, looking at a thin, haggard man writing at the desk. He seemed to be Asian, but his face was somehow hard to see. He wasn’t using a pen or pencil, but a long ink-brush. There was an ink-stone by his hand.


“Now this is more like it!” Said Senhor Capoeira Capybara. The train station was enormous--and it may have been infinite, since it extended in both directions to a vanishing point. It was an unending line of gates leading alongside waiting trains. The signs on the arches looked like printed paper, but their shifting as they walked along showed they were digital.

Acting as if he felt his previous remark required explanation, the big rodent said “no more searching out hidden doorways in burned out cities: just climb aboard for any destination in cosmic infinity!”


Jeanette slowly picked herself up off the train platform. Her father was gone--taken by monster soldiers aboard a nightmare train that was already completely out of sight--very possibly in another universe. In one moment, all her support had been knocked from under her, and she could not think--or rather, a million thoughts, all hysterical, were rushing through her head, all terrible.


If seeing Lord Silvertyger Elphinstone consult a train schedule was impressive, watching him in battle was awe-inspiring.


They came down a steep ramp (which was either set on a cloud-wrapped or floating on a thundercloud) as the fighters came at the train. They were winged jets and heavily armed. The crows, though, still screeching FREE! And SPEAK! Flew into their intake ports; hurled themselves to spatter on the windshields; and tore the rockets and bombs loose from under their wings and rode them to the alien earth.


The mantis stood and seemed to make a grooming motion with her front arms. Jeanette could see both the many tiny mouth parts move as well as the hairs on the arms right before the translator-jewelry spoke in a husky resonant female voice.


“So who’s the cat?”

“His name is Lord Silvertyger Elphinstone.”

“Of course it is. And?”

“He’s Earl of Maurya.”

Terence, still desperately weak, leaning to stay upright, looked at his daughter, one eyebrow raised.

“Do you trust him?”


“Good enough.”

He made the effort, stood up by himself, and beckoned to the figure in mirror-bright armor, who came over to him.

“A word with you.”

“Certainly,” the tiger rumbled.