Nlaminer woke up. Rhissa still manipulated something; the glass
lightly rang; something poured; pages were turned... He looked at the
book he had. He opened it at the page where the history of the
lighthouse island was written.
4. Up and down
This part of land had drowned several times; all the towns and
other settlements were abandoned and lost in the abyss. Mysterious
Akaeff towns were lost forever. Only their crypts, built up
throughout the whole land, left after the vanished race. Nlaminer
looked at the image of an Akaeff... much like the stranger he was
talking to in his vision. A simple thought preoccupied him... but he
couldn't hold it.
He stretched, left the chair he was sitting in and reached for
another book. This one had maps; Nlaminer took a piece of paper -
there were several heaps of the thin perfect paper on the shelf - and
began to make drafts. The underground passages... the lighthouse
plan... more and more maps. All these books seemed to wait for him.
Whose will ordered all of this in this manner ? What plans did that
stranger have ?
He put the pen aside... Good pen, he thought. Pity it will
break in my backpack... some things are not meant to
survive disasters. He examined himself. After that night his fur
became light gray, almost colorless... His face, surrounded by gray
beard and a set of grayish whiskers made him seem one of the ancient sages.
He smiled and reached for a comb to do his fur. Being his natural
dress, the fur required care, and he was several times soaked in
salty water... time to tidy up his appearance.
When he finished, Rhissa called him. "Come here, Nlaminer. I have
found many useful things here."
He walked to her, through many narrow passages between stands,
tables, shelves. Rhissa sat at the huge stone table, covered with
vials, retorts, burners and other alchemical glassware. She showed
him two dozen small colored vials and books lying nearby.
"These," she pointed at seven opalescent vials, "will heal
you. I've written down the recipes. Many reagents are
quite rare and the process is complex, but the results are great.
"These four," she continued, "will make you resistant to
poisons, though I'm not sure to which ones.
"And these," she pointed at nine small black flasks, "will boost
your energy, though it will hurt you a bit."
"And these ?" Nlaminer pointed at three green small bottles.
"Well, these..." she paused. "I suppose they will sharpen
your senses. I do not know how much... I hadn't much time to study
"Good for you." Nlaminer was quite frank. He was fascinated by
all magic or magic-related things; the simple and quite obvious steps
that transformed several strange things into a powerful potion could
not leave him uninterested. Especially if his own friend could master
such transmutations. For him this knowledge was opaque and
indecipherable. "How we will carry them ?"
"Well, I made something right here..." Rhissa showed her belt.
She had made something like an oblong bag, inlaid with fur-like stuff.
Indeed, in such a container the vials could survive even falldowns.
Rhissa offered him the similar bag. "When did you make it ?"
Nlaminer was astounded.
"While you were... traveling," she paused, as if picking the
correct word. She was always particular in psychic matters; his
state was indeed more like traveling than simple dreaming. "Don't
worry," she added. "It was quite simple. Besides, there was much
leather here. I cannot even guess why. If only..."
Nlaminer looked around. Heat suddenly enclosed him; he felt on
fire. Something wrong could happen, if...
"STOP !" he shouted. Rhissa stopped, bewildered. "You
shouldn't... speak... about that..." he added hoarsely and then the
feeling was over. "I understand what you mean. But if you speak that
aloud, unpredictable things can happen." He looked around again. The
room was vibrating. It looked like an earthquake was coming. Glowing
globes began to pulsate. "Come out !" Rhissa said and pulled him to
the staircase. "We should leave at once. Our time's at an end."
They rushed to the exit. The room was vibrating more violently;
everything seemed to stand firmly. Nlaminer tripped over a step and
was hit by a railing. A bit confused, he ran upwards; the room was
trembling and... getting transparent... their time was indeed at an end
here. Rhissa pushed the door and it obediently slid away; they came
out and the door closed immediately behind them. Nlaminer looked
around. No signs of a secret door. The island shook gently
and all became quiet again. Nlaminer noticed his backpack was
unfastened and remembered a metallic clanking as he ascended the
stairs. He browsed through the inventory... his pot was missing. I
hate raw fish, he thought suddenly and began to laugh.
Rhissa looked at him in surprise but said nothing. She was glad
to escape some unknown danger they had just awakened. Nlaminer laughed
a minute or two and then stood up, wiping tears off his eyes. "All
right, Rhissa," he added. "Let's wait a bit. I think we should
examine the wall again."
If only someone had left this room intentionally for us. He
repeated this thought again. Nothing resulted from it. Whatever
reacted to this simple idea, it was far away now.
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