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."We need you!"The dwarf did not answer.He stared, mesmerized, at the gate.In the verycenter of the hexagon, the surface was blank.Runes surrounded it in a circleon all sides, the strokes of the tops and bottoms of the sigla mergingtogether, breaking apart, leaving broad gaps in an otherwise continuous flow.Drugar saw, in his mind, Haplo drawing the runes.The dwarf's hand slippedinto the tunic of his blouse, chilled fingers wrapped around the obsidianmedallion he wore on his chest.He drew it forth, held it up before the gateso that it was level with the blank spot, and slowly began to rotate it."Leave him alone," said Paithan, as Roland began to curse the dwarf."What canhe do anyway?""True enough, I guess," Roland muttered.Sweat mingled with the blood caked onhis face.He felt Aleatha's cool fingers on his arm.Her body pressed closerto his, her hair brushed against his skin.His curses hadn't really been aimedat the dwarf at ail, but hurled bitterly against fate."Why doesn't the damnthing attack and get it over with!"The dragon loomed in front of them, its wingless, footless body coilingupward, its head almost level with the top of the smooth city walls.It seemedto be enjoying the sight of their torment, savoring their fear, a sweet aroma,tempting to the palate."Why has it taken death to bring us together?" whispered Rega, holding fast toPaithan's hand."Because, like our 'savior' said, we never learn."Rega glanced behind her, wistfully, at the gleaming white walls, the sealedgate."I think we might have, this time.I think it might have beendifferent."The dragon's head lowered; the four facing it could see themselves reflectedin the eyes.Its foul breath, smelling of blood, was warm against theirchilling bodies.They braced for the attack.Roland felt a soft kiss on hisshoulder, the wetness of a tear touch his skin.He glanced back over hisshoulder at Aleatha, saw her smile.Roland closed his eyes, praying for thatsmile to be his last sight.Drugar did not turn around.He held the medallion superimposed over the blankspot on the gate.Dimly, he began to understand.As had happened when he was achild, the letters C.A.T were no longer letters to be recited individuallyby rote but were transformed before his eyes into a small, furbearing animal.Elated, transfixed by excitement, he broke the leather thong that held themedallion around his neck and lunged at the gate."I have it! Follow me!"The others hardly dared hope, but they turned and ran after him.Jumping as high as he could, barely able to reach the bottom of the largeround blank in the center, Drugar slammed the medallion against the surface ofthe gate.The single sigil, the crude and simple rune that had been hung around thedwarf child's neck, a charm to protect him from harm, came into contact withthe tops of the runes carved upon the bottom of the gate.The medallion wassmall, barely larger than the dwarf's hand, the sigil carved upon it smallerstill.The dragon struck at last.Roaring, it dove upon its victims.The sigil beneath the dwarfs hand began to glow blue, light welled up betweenstubby fingers.The light brightened, flared.The single rune increased insize, becoming as large as the dwarf, then as broad as a human, taller thanthe elf.The sigil's fire spread across the gate, and wherever the light of the runetouched another rune, that rune burst into flame.The flames expanded, thePage 181 ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.htmlgate blazed with magical fire.Drugar gave a mighty shout and ran straight atit, shoving with his hands.The gates to the citadel shivered, and opened.CHAPTER 40SOMEWHERE PRYAN"I THOUGHT THEY'D NEVER FIGURE IT OUT!" STATED THE DRAGON INexasperation."I took my time getting up there, then they made me wait andwait.There's only so much slavering and howling one can do, you know, beforeit loses its effectiveness.""Complain, complain.That's all you've done," snapped Zifnab."You haven'tsaid a word about my performance.'Fly, you fools!' I thought I played thatrather well.""Gandalf said it better'?""Gandalf!" Zifnab cried in high dudgeon."What do you mean, he said it'better'?""He gave the phrase more depth of meaning, more emotive power.""Well, of course he had emotive power! He had a balrog hanging onto hisskivvies! I'd emote, too!""A balrog!" The dragon flicked its huge tail."And I suppose I'm nothing!Chopped liver!""Chopped lizard, if I had my way!""What did you say?" the dragon demanded, glowering."Remember, wizard, thatyou're 'only my familiar.You can be replaced.""Chicken gizzard! I was discussing food.I'm extremely hungry," said Zifnabhastily."By the way, what happened to all the rest of 'em?""The rest of who? Chickens?""Humans! Elves, you ninny.""Don't blame me.You should be more precise with your pronouns." The dragonbegan to carefully inspect its glittering body."I chased the merry littleband up into the citadel where they were welcomed with open arms by theirfellows.It wasn't an easy task, mind you.Blundering through the jungle.Lookat this, I broke a scale.""No one ever said it would be easy," said Zifnab, with a sigh."You're right there," agreed the dragon.His fiery-eyed gaze lifted, went tothe citadel, shining on the horizon."It won't be for them, either [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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