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The Guardian
5. The prison

"This is what we have," Nlaminer put on the table all their trophies; five books, a bag with flasks; medallion and the knife. "I suppose this is not enough if we decide to explore the underground part."

Rhissa sat, thinking, playing with a pen. They moved their headquarters to one of the guest rooms. It could be as easily defended as the cave; and they could always climb down out of the window. The window was mostly intact and when they started a fire, the room began to give a sensation of some comfort. The cave in this sense was a trap. Once besieged by whomever could come at night they would have no escape.

"There are several strange places," Nlaminer continued. "One is the library. There are void places according to the plan; large enough for another guest room to fit in. However, there are some strange signs on the wall, no secret passage or whatever.

"There are also passages leading deep underground and to the north. The entrance is in the rooms beneath the smithy; the stores under the kitchen are just monster pits and I feel myself not equipped to confront anything that lives there. I think we should concentrate on the underground tunnel."

"You didn't mention the crypt," Rhissa added and her friend shivered a bit. "You are afraid for no reason, though. There are no undead lurking there; and all small creatures are easy to calm. The same about the kitchen. I do not want to fight anything that won't crave for our blood."

Nlaminer sat tapping something on the table. "Well," he said at last, "I think you're right. But without a reliable rope, hooks and all other stuff it would be quite risky to continue our searches.

And even if we decide to leave the island,.."

"I doubt it," Rhissa said. "There is no boat any more. I think that last storm washed it away."

Nlaminer paused. "Then it is normal to find some other way to escape from here. I cannot cast Fly; and nobody of us could make a boat out of stone."

"The key to all the events lies somewhere in the building,"

Rhissa objected. "Yes, we will study all the passages, but I think we will have to explore all the places we did not visit here, in the lighthouse, to understand how we should rid ourselves of our new supervisor. For me, his actions bring only destruction. The nightfall is nigh; I will examine all the entrances, if you would not mind."

"And I will study the books," Nlaminer pointed at the books he managed to save before the laboratory was ruined. "I think there should be several helpful ideas here." Nlaminer cast Light on the spent torch protruding from the wall and began to read. They had little oil to spend; he had to use the magic now. Whatever force was preventing gods from talking to their devotees, his magic powers were recuperating normally. He made the Light a bit yellow and soon was deep into comparing, writing, searching through the books. Once he looked out of the window and saw Rhissa studying the outside of the lighthouse.

While he was making calculations, writing down notes, a thought, small but annoying, moved deep inside his mind. He went on studying until he realized Rhissa was sitting behind him, meditating.

The thought began to materialize into more solid form... Nlaminer looked at Rhissa and asked softly, "Do you hear me ?"

"Yes," Rhissa answered, her eyes closed.

"I think there is one more strangeness. One simple thing we missed before and are missing now. Do you recall something unusual; what we should have done, but didn't ?"

Rhissa slowly opened her eyes. "What do you mean ?"

Nlaminer considered hastily. The memory came back to him, and the picture began to restore some of the lost details. "Where is our boat, Rhissa ?"

"Washed away, in the storm, what do you..."

"But why didn't we hide it safely ? Eh ? Do you understand ?"

Rhissa looked at him, and the knowledge flashed in her widened eyes. "Then we didn't scout the shore, but simply picked a cave..."

"... Came to the lighthouse in the open ..."

"... Didn't hurry to study the laboratory more thotoughly..."

"We did not take elementary precautions. I see ! He weakened our defense - we did not expect anything dangerous."

"There must be details we missed while studying the building and its surroundings. He makes us feel safer than we are; several times we were in real danger and only good luck saved us from worse consequences."

"So we should search everything anew," Rhissa resumed. "You are quite right, Nlaminer. This is what was giving me wry sensations.

From now on we should distrust the obvious."

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-- mecenat --

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