Have you ever been on a mountain gondola? I have—just a little one, nothing so grand or lonesome as this. When we reached the top, we clambered on rocks and fed nuts to some tiny, thwap-like creatures—chipmunks, I think they were called? An odd name. They reached up and put their little fingers on ours as they took the nuts from our hands. On the way down, the blanketing trees, still and silent and small as models, rose up to welcome us back to the earth.
“Janner, wake up,” Kalmar said.
Janner sat up with a jerk. Kalmar pointed out the window at the breaking dawn. They couldn’t see the sun behind the mountains, but it painted the high clouds in the east in pinks and fair yellows. In the west lay a misty flatness that looked like the Dark Sea at dusk back in Glipwood. But it wasn’t the sea. It was the barren desert of the Woes of Shreve.
The gondola was reaching its terminus. The mountainside was rocky and snowless, and Janner noticed that he wasn’t as cold as he had been all night. The chain that carried them stretched down toward a tiny cluster of buildings. …
As Janner studied the settlement, trying to judge the distance, he saw something that took his breath away. The buildings and the little platform where the gondola would come to rest were on the far side of a yawning chasm.
The gondola lumbered forward, lurched over another pole, and swung the boys out over a rift in the earth so deep that it seemed to swallow the sunlight. It stretched away on either side as far as they could see, as if the mountains had decided one day to detach themselves from the rest of the continent. The chain drooped across it for several hundred yards, connecting to another platform on the other side. Birds—hawks and falcons and at least one rare gryfendril—wheeled in the empty air below them like fish swimming in the deep.
Discussion: Would you have been brave enough to be the first to ride the gondola across the chasm?
What was your favorite part of the story to read this week?
If you’ve finished reading the series and would like to help us with a project, click here!