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the sign of the blood. Yes, I'd recognize it in any land dweller."
"I was talking about sea serpents," said Jim.
"Oh yes, serpents," said Granfer. "One of those is always dropping by to talk
to me, too, you know. Not so fearful of me as most because of their size. And
to tell the truth, I don't think I'd like the taste of one too well, in any
case. Give me cod, any day. There's nothing like cod. Delicious!"
"So," said Jim, "perhaps you know why we're seeing more of them around this
island of ours."
"It's that odd-shaped island, rather good-sized," put in Rrrnlf to the squid.
"The one right next to the big land mass that stretches forever and
ever almost."
"Yes, yes, I rather guessed that was the island the wee Mage was talking
about," said Granfer. He sighed. It was a strange, groaning sound that Jim had
to puzzle over for a second before recognizing it. "Solitary individuals, the
serpents. Almost as solitary as the Sea Devils eh, Rrrnlf?"
"Much worse than us. When they gather together, it's against their nature; or
there's some strong reason."
"Which reason is it this time?" Jim asked Granfer bluntly.
"Oh, just a reason, I understand," said Granfer. "Dear, dear! I tried to calm
them down, you know. But it was no use. Only the other day a dragon from that
same land that you come from, wee Mage a dragon named Gleingul managed to kill
a serpent all by himself on some tide banks of a place called the Gray Sands "
"It was about a century or so, ago, Granfer," put in Rrrnlf.
"Eh? That long? Anyway, it's worked on them. One of the troubles with
serpents and I always tell them this, too, when I talk to them is that they
take things too much to heart. But no, they're determined to clean the dragons
off that piece of high land. Of course, there's the dragons' hoards they have
in mind, too "
"Odd," rumbled Rrrnlf, "both dragons and serpents having hoards, like that."
" Anyway," went on Granfer, "there's no stopping the serpents, this time. So
for once they're all going to work together, and be helped by some kind of
land dweller like yourself, wee Mage; only he lives on the large piece of land
that Rrrnlf was just mentioning that went on forever and ever."
"I believe I know who," said Jim.
"Happens, he's near the western shore of it, close to your island," went on
Granfer, "and he, with some of his people want your island for themselves. I
understand he's the lander who's spoken to the sea serpents about assaulting
your island at the same time his friends do he and his friends to destroy your
friends, and the serpents to destroy the dragons."
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"I see," said Jim. Granfer was a smooth liar. Carolinus had said Ecotti could
not be the Mastermind. "That raises a number of questions."
"Perhaps I can answer one without your asking," said Granfer. "This lander is
also a magician."
"I know who you mean," said Jim sharply. "But he's not a magician. He's a
sorcerer. That's different."
"Different, is it?" echoed Granfer. "Well, well. It's seldom nowadays that I
learn anything new; but now I've just learned something. I didn't know there
were different kinds of magicians."
"There aren't," said Jim. "There's magicians and sorcerers."
"Yet they both use magic; or so I thought," said Granfer. "What makes them
different?"
"I'm afraid it'd take a magician with more learning than I have to explain
that properly," said Jim. "But I know who you're referring to. His name's
Ecotti."
"Ah," said Granfer on another sigh, "how you magicians astound me. Wee Mage,
it's amazing the way you can reach out and pluck a name out of nowhere like
that and be right."
"Now, for another question," said Jim. "Just how does Ecotti contact the sea
serpents?"
"You know," said Granfer, "I told them not to do this. I said it wouldn't
work. You'll run into another magician, I said. That island's bound to have at
least one magician. And then what'll happen to you? But would he listen? No."
"Who do you mean by he?" asked Jim.
"Ah, well now," said Granfer, "I don't know whether he'd like me to tell you
who he is or not. What use would it be to you to know, any way?"
"If I knew who he was, Rrrnlf could probably help me find him "
"I can find anyone or anything in any of the oceans," said Rrrnlf grimly. "On
any place on high land too, given time enough. Nothing stops a Sea Devil."
"Would you do that, Rrrnlf?" said Granfer in a tone as close to wistfulness
as a creature weighing a matter of tons could come.
"I'm indebted to the Mage. And besides, he may be able to help me find who
stole my Lady. I know it was a serpent. And I'll find whoever it was. When I
do& !"
"No doubt you will, lad," said Granfer soothingly. "I've no doubt of it at
all "
"Just a minute, Granfer," said Jim. "You still haven't told me how Ecotti
made his contact and agreement with the sea serpents to help the French
forces for those are the ones on the larger land that you're talking
about attackEngland , which is our island."
"Dear, dear, dear," said Granfer, "so many questions. And I've answered so
many over the centuries that it's hard to remember where or when I am.
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Sometimes I think "
Once again, Granfer's tentacles had moved like lightning. This time they came
out of nowhere linked and woven together like a net, that caught the bubble,
pushed it down and under Granfer. The darkness of the silt closed around Jim
and the others utterly, so that suddenly they were in inky darkness.
"I'll think about that question for a while." Granfer's voice filtered down
to them, muffled by the silt above them and by the mass of his own body. Jim
ordered the bubble to move. It stirred slightly, but between the silt and
Granfer's weight holding it down it seemed trapped.
Which was all wrong. Because it was supposed to ignore any pressure upon it;
and yet the pressure of Granfer's admittedly massive body and the silt were
holding it trapped.
Jim was stunned. Granfer was not a Natural, and therefore did not have
instinctive, unconscious built-in superhuman abilities, like that which had [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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