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.Devon and a host of younger elvesspent their time practicing shooting arrows at a target they had set up.Grundle was the only one who gave Haplo cause for concern, and then only as aminor annoyance, like a gnat.More than once, he caught her trailing after him, staring at him, herexpression grave and thoughtful, as if she was having difficulty making up hermind about him.And when she discovered him looking at her, she'd give him anabrupt nod or shake her side whiskers at him, turn around, and stump off.Alake had said Grundle didn't believe the dolphins.Apparently, Alake'd beenwrong.Haplo didn't waste time trying to argue with the dwarf.After all, what thedolphins had told the young people was true.He was using the mensch.He spent most of his waking hours with them, molding them, shaping them,leading them to do what he wanted.His task wasn't easy.The mensch, terrifiedof their dragon-snake allies, might come to greatly admire the would-be enemy.This was Haplo's one fear, the one toss of the rune-bone that would end hisgame.If the Sartan welcomed the mensch with open arms, clasped them to theirbosoms, so to speak, Haplo was finished.He'd escape, of course.Thedragon-snakes would see to that.But he'd have to go back to the Nexusempty-handed, make a humiliating report to his lord.Faced with that choice, Haplo wasn't certain he would go back at all.Betterto die.Time passed quickly, even for the Patryn, impatient to at last meet hisgreatest foe.He was lying in his bed when he heard a grinding sound, felt ajolt pass through the ship.Voices cried out in alarm, only to be reassuredthe next moment by their king.The submersibles floated upward, broke through the water.Open air andsunshine bright sunshine surrounded them.The sun-chasers had caught the sun.CHAPTER * 26SURUNAN CHELESTRAALFRED SPENT MOST OF HIS DAY AND A GREATER PORTION OF HIS night listening tothe echo of the conversation he'd overheard between Samah and his son.Heheard it all, over and over again in his mind, but one portion kept returningto him, louder and more persistent than the rest.We should do to him what we did to the others.What others?Those who had discovered that they were not gods, that they were (or shouldbe) worshipers? Those who had found out that the Sartan were not the sun, butjust another planet? What had happened to them? Where were they?He glanced around, almost as if he expected to find them sitting in Orla'sgarden.The heretics weren't in Chelestra.They weren't on the Council.Despite the fact that there was some division, the Council members, with theexception of Orla, appeared to be solidly behind Samah.Perhaps all Ramu meant was that the heretics had been counseled, finallyconverted back to proper Sartan ways of thinking.This was a comfortingthought, and Alfred wanted very much to believe it.He spent almost an entirePage 162 ABC Amber Palm Converter, http://www.processtext.com/abcpalm.htmlhour convincing himself it must be true.That nagging unfortunate part of himthat seemed to be always going off on its own (and taking his feet with it)argued that he was, as usual, refusing to face reality.The internal argument was wearing, left him worn out and unhappy.He was tiredof it, tired of being by himself, forced to argue with himself.He wasimmeasurably cheered at the sight of Orla entering the garden in search ofhim.It had seemed to Alfred as if she had been avoiding him."Ah, here you are." Orla spoke briskly, impersonally.She might have beentalking to the dog, snoozing at Alfred's feet.The animal opened an eye to seewho was here, yawned, rolled over, and went back to sleep.Startled by Orla's detached tone, Alfred sighed.She obviously loathed himnow.He supposed he couldn't really blame her."Yes, I'm here," he replied."Where did you think I would be the library?"Orla flushed in anger, then paled.She bit her lip."I'm sorry," she said,after a moment."I suppose I deserved that.""No, I'm the one who is sorry," Alfred said, appalled at himself."I don'tknow what's come over me.Won't you please sit down?""No, thank you," Orla said, her flush deepening."I can't stay.I came to tellyou that we've received a message from the mensch.They have arrived onDraknor." Her voice hardened."They want to arrange a meeting.""What is Draknor? One of the durnai?""Yes, poor creature.The durnai were meant to hibernate until the seasundrifted away, then we would wake them and they would follow it.Most durnai,after we left, never woke up.I doubt if even the mensch, who have lived onthe durnai all this time, are aware that they have been living on a livingbeing."Unfortunately, the dragon-snakes realized at once that the durnai were alive.They attacked one, woke it, and have tormented the durnai ever since.According to the dolphins, the dragon-snakes have devoured it slowly, gnawedat it bit by bit.It lives in perpetual agony and fear."Yes," Orla added, seeing Alfred grow pale with horror."It is these creatureswho have allied themselves with your Patryn friend.And with the mensch."Alfred was sickened.He glanced down at the dog, slumbering peacefully."Ican't believe it.Not even of Haplo.He is a Patryn ambitious, hard, cold.Buthe's not a coward.He's not cruel.He takes no delight in tormenting thehelpless, he does not enjoy inflicting pain.""Yet he is there, in Draknor, and the mensch are with him [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]