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.' Merryl stuffed the papers in his pack and hurried out.Daesmie was doing the same with the globe and the rest of her apparatus.Nish put the paper down, hoisted his pack and headed for Kimli's thapter, which stood behind the command tent.It had come in only an hour ago, after studying the enemy's movements from the air.When he arrived, the others were already inside.He passed up his pack and was just climbing over the side when Troist came running around the tent.He had Nish's sheet in his hand.'Hey? What are you doing?' Troist cried.'Go, Kimli,' Gilhaelith hissed, heaving Nish in.She hesitated.'But he's the general, surr.''And I'm your superior and a mancer of dreadful power.Do as I say!''Guards!' roared Troist.'Now!' Gilhaelith screamed in her face.Kimli's arm jerked on the flight knob and the thapter leapt in the air.The guards came running, arming their crossbows, but by the time they took aim it was too late.The thapter was out of range.'Go north until we're out of sight,' said Gilhaelith, 'then sweep around to the west.''Where are we going?' she quavered.'First to Nyriandiol, my former fortress atop Booreah Ngurle, if anything remains of it.And then, we shall see.Go swiftly.'Four soldiers were sitting down below.Flangers was one of them.Nish sat beside him.'What's going on?''No idea,' said Flangers.'I'm just doing what I'm told.'He looked unhappy but did not seem inclined to talk so Nish sat in a corner, closed his tired eyes and tried to work out what the geomancer was up to, and what he, Nish, should do about it.Clearly, Gilhaelith was following his own private agenda.Equally clearly, he was on to something important and, even if Troist wasn't aware of it, it might have been sanctioned by Flydd or Yggur.Well, probably not Yggur.Nish decided to keep his eyes and ears open and follow Gilhaelith's orders, for the time being.He woke as they set down on the mountaintop.Outside, he looked around curiously.Booreah Ngurle was often mentioned in the Histories.It had been an important site two thousand years ago, though Nish could not remember why.It was mid-morning.The mountain's crest was wreathed in steam and fumes which had a yellow cast and a sulphurous stench.Gilhaelith had made a fortune mining condensed sulphur from the floor of the crater.Nish looked over the side.Not even the foolhardiest miner would have gone down there now.The crater lake was boiling, while up the other end red lava forced itself from a vent, surrounded by roiling black smoke and punctuated by small explosions that filled the air with wheeling, red-hot lumps of rock.The ground shook and grey ash filtered from the sky.His shoulders were already coated with it.'This is the end for the mountain,' said Gilhaelith, leaning on a stone wall to look over the edge.'It won't be long now.''Then hadn't we better do what you came for and get away?' said Nish.'Humour me, Nish.I lived here a hundred and fifty years, all that time wondering when Booreah Ngurle would finally blow itself apart.The mountain is like an old friend to me, and I have to say goodbye.''Why are we here?'Gilhaelith roused.'Ah, yes.Because I left something here which will help us to find the matriarch, and more importantly, what she has with her.Kimli, Nish, come with me.The rest of you, stay with the thapter.We won't be long.Keep a sharp lookout.'He laid his hands on the broken front doors, which had been rudely but strongly reinforced with iron bands, and they unlocked.Gritty hinges squealed when he pulled the door open.Nish followed him and Kimli fell in beside Nish.No doubt Gilhaelith wanted her along so she couldn't be forced to fly the thapter away.They headed down a long hall thick with dust and ash which long ago had been scalloped into ripples by the wind.There were no tracks apart from one set of boot marks going in and another back out, and the occasional trail made by a lizard's tail.The boot marks were Gilhaelith's.So he'd been back here after escaping from Alcifer.'The earth has been my science and my Art, for all my adult life,' said Gilhaelith, his long strides puffing up ash at toe and heel.'If I am to leave here forever, there's one small thing I have to take with me.'They went down several floors.Nish was amazed at the wealth of the place, and the austere beauty.Both his father and mother had been wealthy but they'd possessed nothing like Nyriandiol.Even more amazing, it had not been looted.Perhaps Gilhaelith's reputation was too uncanny.Gilhaelith opened a door into a dark room, touched a quartz sphere above the door and soft light spread out.The room was empty except for a sphere, about half a span across, turning slowly in a metal bowl on a round wooden base set with brass graduated rings and pointers that could be slid around them.'This,' said the mancer.'Not so small,' said Nish.It appeared to be a model of Santhenar.The side facing them showed Lauralin and the ocean to the east, and part of another land, beyond the equator to the north.He walked around it, studying the islands and continents.'I've often wondered what was beyond those seas.''So did I, Nish,' said the mancer.'All my life I've wondered, and now I know.''It must have taken you a long time,' said Nish.'Half a lifetime.I completed it only recently, in Alcifer, with the aid of the lyrinx.They'd flown the entire world in their early days here, mapping it on charts made from tanned human skin.''How did you get away?''The globe can be used for more than I told them.At an early stage I tapped into their sentinels and discovered what they had planned for me - among other things.'I'd given up hope of escape when fate took a hand.You, Tiaan and Irisis attacked Alcifer with the fungus spores [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]