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The Guardian
13. Fugitives

It was sunset.

The sky was deep blue, purple in hue around the spot where the sun should disappear the next minute.

There was an island where they stayed now. A small circle of land, abundant with plants and trees, full of small rodent-like animals and birds singing beautiful songs.

Each evening they built fire, sat near it and stared at sunset. They lived here for two weeks now and nothing wrong was still about this place.

The two adventurers had now time enough to speak on any subject they could remember. But they rarely did so; they mostly sat and looked. They sensed they need not to speak. Many things were obvious and known. Only the memory of their solitary adventures was fascinating for the other. And while they were not expecting an impulse to leave this island and jump into some other reality they felt themselves at piece. The events they went through did not offer them much rest anyway.

"We need some permanent solution," Nlaminer said after they jumped into third reality during the same day. "We cannot flee forever and we could make up something to defeat the false god."

"We should know where to go to," Rhissa said. "This jumper moves us at random." She meant the portal generator. It turned out to be an extremely useful device. It was getting energy from the environment; its full charge was enough to set up about eight portals one after another. The only thing they could not work out was how to make the device to move them into some desired reality. They were sure that they will be moved into a world with appropriate conditions to live in. Nothing more.

"And he follows us every time we use our magic abilities,"

Nlaminer said. "Nice situation. But there should be a possibility to take him by surprise."

"That means we know where his place is exactly."

"And he waits us in both Wisdom and Art domains."

"And I cannot invoke to deities without attracting him immediately," Rhissa concluded. She was right. They had time enough to flee into a portal hastily set, when hordes of black shadow guards appeared out of nowhere. It happened each time they tried to use their mental abilities.

"Have we anything he cannot detect ?" Nlaminer said. "I still have my Voice, but it rarely visits me now."

"I have my clerical skills, but they are limited if I am meant not to attract his sentinels. I can heal wounds, I know several useful alchemist recipes. That's all."

Nlaminer sighed. "I see. But I feel the answer is somewhere near, very near. If only gods would help us !"

"Gods have no intentions to deal with the false god," Rhissa objected. "We have changed our own reality... well, you changed mostly... and that's how we see our future. Beyond that, gods will not bother to save us or the like. Nobody forced us to deal with the false god; and it is up to us to find the way out."

"Pity," Nlaminer murmured. "I would make anything to put an end to that ill and mad being. Besides, he could keep his promise and begin desroying our races."

"Gods will not allow his demons to enter their dominions," Rhissa replied firmly.

"He has a way to change the very laws that control the gods."

Nlaminer objected. "Thus he could trick them. After we have ruined his plans to return bakc to his dominion - well, the real god's dominion - he should be very angry indeed."

"How do you know about that ?" Rhissa asked, intrugued. "You told that before, but I never asked you again."

"I studied some books at the Theater," Nlaminer replied simply.

"There were... well, there are many books there. At last I have found a reference to similar problems. When mortals are able to trick the laws of the Universe and acquire godlike abilities for a while."

He reached for his ironwood staff. "And I brought several souvenirs from the Theater... this staff, for example."

"By the way, why did you make so many notches on your staff ? How ling did you stay there anyway ?"

"Notches ? A notch for every day passed."

"What ?!" Rhissa began to count them. It took more than half an hour. "It makes... about fourteen years ?!"

Nlaminer nodded. "I could leave and find you only when I would have written the whole history of my life. So I did. No other way. The Theater is somewhere in a Tunnel. Then I opened a door and saw your footprints in the dust. This is how I'd found you."

Rhissa looked at him and sat nearer. "You had saved my life again. Should I stay there any longer..." She looked the other way but Nlaminer felt a flow of energy coming from her hand. It warmed his soul.

"It was terrible to sit there all these years," Nlaminer went on.

"I will tell you the whole story some time. First week I was sure you are in dire trouble, for I felt something... inside me..."

"I understand," Rhissa said quietly. "I felt the same."

"Then Uaron had told me, 'Any time you think about her, you let the time flow here. You should forget her for the time being. Otherwise you could as well never see her again.' It was even more hard, NOT to think about you. Remember you, but do not think. I was at the edge of a breakdown those days, but I had soon found a way to do what I want without letting the time flow."

"Tell me the whole story, Nlaminer."

"To spend fourteen years more ?" he smiled. "Well, I think I will do that part by part. Should we build fire now ?"

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-- mecenat --

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