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heard of a binding spell, Tarscenian?
Of course he had, although casting such a spell was far beyond his carnival-level powers. A binding
spell could pluck something or someone out of one reality to be dropped at the whim of the
spellcaster into another one.
So now I'm right where I'd hoped to put Hederick. And the spell has left me too weak to reverse it
myself. Not without the Diamond Dragon. I...
"Where are you?" Tarscenian repeated. "I can barely hear you, Ancilla."
Within the vallenwood trunk, back in the courtyard of the temple. lam trapped'.
The old man sat back down in the ferns and contemplated this news. "Be calm, my love," he said at
last. "At least you are alive. Thank Paladine for that."
I will do what I can to help you from here, Tarscenian, but the battle, I fear, belongs to you now.
"Must we use only magic?"
What other means do you suggest we use? The Seeker "gods" have corrupted my brother's mind and
confuse his thoughts; you know he will not listen
Tarscenian interrupted angrily. "Couldn't we simply wait until Hederick leaves the temple and
waylay him? Let me do it, Ancilla. I am old but still strong. I assure you I would enjoy the task."
We have argued about this before, Tarscenian.
"Please. I can easily kill him if the opportunity presents itself. One quick thrust... I promise you he
will not suffer."
Stop! I will not have Hederick harmed. I made an oath / swore never to physically hurt him. If I
cannot halt him here and now, his own greed and ambition will eventually take care of him but I
must stop him from doing irreparable harm to the world. Tarscenian, lam afraid.
"He's dangerous. Let me..."
He is dangerous because he is weak but believes himself strong. It is not his fault, Tarscenian; his
wrongheadedness is born of pain. It could play powerfully into the wrong hands.
"Ancilla..."
I fear the evil goddess will make much use of Hederick.
Nonetheless, Tarscenian, I swore an oath to my brother.
"Hederick despises you, Ancilla. I could dispatch him with a quick thrust of steel. He'd not hesitate
to do the same to you, you know that. For your sake, I'd make sure it was instantaneous, which is
more than he'd grant you."
No, Tarscenian. I cannot renege on such an oath.
"Let me follow him, at least, and divine where he keeps the Diamond Dragon. I will try to steal it
back for you."
We have tried that. You are a crafty illusionist, my love, but you have no skills as a thief. And
Hederick knows what you look like now.
"I could hire a thief."
We have tried that, too. Many times. But perhaps Solace thieves are more adept than those we have
engaged in the past. Do that hire one. It is something, anyway.
Tarscenian's thoughts shifted. "We were not able to save the woman Crealora."
We eased her passage to the next world. She felt little pain.
"But she died!"
The woman is with Paladine, my friend. She is away from the pain of this world. It is not our place
to wish her back.
Tarscenian did not reply. This time it was Ancilla's turn to offer comfort.
Don't despair, my love. Lie low until the guards stop looking for you, and then find us a ring of
thieves. I will do what I can from here. I still have a few ways to annoy my brother, never fear.
Perhaps I cannot stop him permanently, but surely I can make his life miserable.. .as he has made
mine.
Chapter 8
The high Theocrat changed into a fresh robe after the execution and turned his sullied garment over
to a novitiate for burning. Then Hederick headed straight for the Great Chamber. He sent Dahos and
the others away, then closeted himself to prepare for the evening revelations.
He may have defeated one of the greatest mages ever, but routine was sacred. Seeker gods did not
tolerate slop-piness.
Everything in the Great Chamber was out of place today, of course. It always was this way, despite
repeated punishment of his terrified aides. The incense holders, the ceremonial crystals, the holy
parchments all were only a hairsbreadth awry, but wrong nonetheless. Had no one else read the
Praxis?
Hederick resolved to speak once more with his high
priest. Perhaps he would have to make an example of one of the novitiates before the rest applied
themselves more dutifully. But now he busied himself setting things to rights in the pulpit. It
wouldn't do to have the Greater and Lesser Pantheons gaze down on untidiness when he summoned
them before hundreds of devout Seekers.
Setting out the ritual implements according to intricate, century-old patterns was an exacting task,
but Hederick had a passion for detail. He routinely caught lapses in Seeker protocol that far younger
men missed.
I may be well past sixty, but I have sharper faculties than most priests, he told himself. That's why
I'm High Theocrat. The New Gods have blessed me. After all, they helped me defeat Ancilla. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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