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The Guardian
11. The Museum

An imprisoned mind suffers much more than an imprisoned body. The time stopped its flow; the barrier that closed all the outer world was impenetrable. The worst was she got nothing from the Realm. With no energy left, she was doomed to perish here.

After an infinite period of time she felt a mighty stunning impact on her mind. She felt she was falling down from an unmeasured height. Then she felt she is being supported and saw a furry hand pressing to her forehead.

"Nlaminer," she tried to say, but managed only to move her lips.

He winked at her and offered her her own flask. She sipped and the senses returned to her. Nlaminer was standing beside. He looked...

somewhat differently. It was hard to say what had changed in him. She clutched to his arm, unable to speak. The terror of inevitable death was still strong in her heart. She saw his lips moving but heard nothing. After a while her hearing returned to normal. "Can you move ?" he was asking.

She nodded. Nlaminer smiled and helped her to sit. She looked around; a small pedestal she was sitting on now was a place of her imprisonment, no doubt. There was many such pedestals, both with remnants on them and without. She shuddered at such terrible vision and sat with closed eyes for some time. Then she remembered the metal guard that had taken her prisoner.

"The guard," she pointed at the door. "A metal creature that had captured me. I was unable to resist it."

"I see," he took from his backpack her belt and helped to fasten it. "I brought all your possessions," he explained. "I thought you could make some use of them." And he laughed softly. She noticed he was carrying another ironwood staff, with delicate carving resembling tiny scales.

They ate; Nlaminer brought some food, too. Rhissa was very hungry; Nlaminer ate only a little. For her, the real food was especially tasty, as she was fed only by spells, which could not bring taste and the feeling of satiation.

Nlaminer sat all the time and only looked at her. They waited for about half an hour, when Rhissa asked him, "What are we waiting for ?"

"You need to recover," he answered. "I had a brief study of this place. I did not made any search, as I had to free you as soon as possible. We have little time to spend. Did you find the altar of..."

he looked at her and make a vague gesture, "You understand ?"

She nodded. "Yes, I saw him."

"He is planning a Judgement. I do not know how; no doubt he had found a Judge. We should hurry. I do not know how we could prevent that, but we will need his altar, I think. If you are rested, let's go. Right now."

"You want to threaten a god, Nlaminer ?"

"He is not a god," he winked again. "It's a long story. Let's move. The time here has another speed; hope the Judgement had not begun."

"Mind the guard," Rhissa repeated as they were approaching the door. He nodded and kicked the door open.

A guard was standing right near it. Rhissa was ready to strike it when Nlaminer simply touched the massive figure and it fell heavily, breaking into small parts. Nlaminer was about to run to the 'Cults' door, when Rhissa called, "Halt ! Wait a bit !"

Nlaminer watched as she picked a portal spawner and hid it into a pocket. Then they went as fast as they could and a hour later they stood in front of Toxxar altar.

"We should make our strongest efforts now," he warned. "We shall travel through the Realm. I have no doubts he is mostly in our reality now. There is a small chance we can convince the gods to postpone the Judgement. If his plans succeed... well, all we will have to do is to try to hide your and mine people somewhere. This creature is awfully strong. Only the combined minds can interfere with his actions. His altar will give us the directions; we should find him and do everything to banish him away."

"If we make the Rite now, we will die," Rhissa said softly. "But if this is the only chance, let's try it."

"No," Nlaminer objected. "Not this time."

He took a silver collar out of his backpack. "This is a farewell gift," he said, fastening it. "My powers right now are stronger than yours. That will not last for long, but it could help us for a while."

He gave her a hand. She took it. A warmth, quick and alive, flowed into her body. "Lead the way," she heard his words, coming from somewhere inside her mind. "I will move us, but only you know the way."

They felt the same overwhelming energy that hurled their minds into the other dimension; this time, though, their bodies were following them.

If anyone could observe the scene, he would see them both glowing with intolerable brightness. Their bodies drew nearer, melted into one. Then they disappeared; a lightning struck the altar of Toxxar and destroyed it. Echo of explosion ran several times across the hall; a smell of ozone and black remnants of the altar - it was all that left.

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-- mecenat --

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