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ahead or we may run into them and of course, he sees through them, and . . ."
"Yes, that would be unfortunate. Is there anything else you're having difficulty
remembering, friend Huldyl?"
"N-no, Lord Harnrim. I uh, through here. There're steps up. You wanted to see
Vangerdahast at work. . . ."
"Indeed," the Red Wizard breathed, his voice the merest of whispers and his hand
remaining on Rauthur's shoulder. "Show me."
Unseen behind the trembling War Wizard, Starangh's other hand slipped the
crystal out of his codpiece and held it ready in his hand just in case.
The worn stone steps were a narrow, short flight that ascended into a sort of
garden room, where benches held shallow trays of flourishing herbs and food plants
beneath a ceiling of curving glass. Outside, a great ring of thickly grown trees
surrounded the domed ceiling, which lay in its own little clearing and among them,
the Red Wizard could see the motionless forms of a dozen or more helmed
horrors so many empty suits of armor, floating tirelessly upright in the
Rauthur had laid a hand on Starangh's arm, and he turned his head to glare only
to see the War Wizard pointing down.
Through a gap between two of the old bedding trays, more glass could be seen: a
wall, this time, that overlooked an adjacent room whose floor was much lower.
Starangh found himself looking down on the moving heads of a man and a woman.
Rauthur did something delicate with the air around them. There was a momentary
flicker of magical radiance the merest of ripples and voices could be faintly
heard, the words of the man and woman below.
The Red Wizard bent his head forward to listen intently.
A tiny whirlwind of flames circled in midair as Vangerdahast peered critically at it.
"Not enough," he grunted, "Not enough."
Tiny threads of lightning spurted from his fingertips and crawled unsteadily
through the air, flickering and darting to join the pinwheel of flames . . . which flared
into greater life, wobbled and promptly collapsed into winking sparks and fading
Vangey slammed one hand down on the table and rose on it to lean forward and
watch every last instant of his spell dying.
"Not a success," Myrmeen Lhal observed gently from the chair across the room
where she sat in full armor, her drawn sword across her knees.
Vangerdahast growled deep in his throat as she'd heard many a hunting-dog do
and whirled around to glare at her. "I can't work with you watching me, curse it,
woman! Why don't you take your sword and your armored self out into the woods
and shred some small, furry things? Leave me be!"
"No," the Lady Lord of Arabel said sweetly, smiling at him with her chin cradled
in her hands. Her gauntlets, he noted wearily, were perched on the great carved
horns of the chairback. "I like small, furry things even ones that wear wizards'
robes and growl at me grumpily."
Vangerdahast growled again, more angrily this time, and brought his other hand
down on the table with a crash.
"Patience in all things, Lord," she murmured. "If you expect to craft entirely new
spells to bind dozens of dragons, you can't expect every spell to be a simple
thing or other mages would have done it already and bound every last one of them
thousands of years ago."
"I've seen enough," the Red Wizard murmured in Rauthur's ear, "and shall take my
leave of you. Conduct me to where it's safe to depart."
Huldyl Rauthur nodded and led the way quickly back down the steps to the
passage, and along it the way they'd come. Halfway along the corridor he paused
beside a door and muttered, "Lord Starangh, within are some of the floating eyes
and flying hands that I know how to attune and activate. Would you like to use them
to, ah, see farther through the sanctum than we've walked, thus far?"
The Red Wizard smiled. "How thoughtful but no, thank you. Not this time.
You've been very helpful and useful, Rauthur and I trust shall remain so." He
clapped the War Wizard warmly on the shoulder and added, "For of course, to
betray me is ... to die." [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]