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.Something had gone terribly wrong for him, and I enjoy that sort of thing.""Dear Uncle Beldin," Aunt Pol said fondly, putting her arms around the filthy little man."I've missed you so much.""Don't try to charm me, Polgara," he told her, though his eyes seemed to soften slightly."This is as much your fault as it is your father's.I thought you were going to keep an eye on him.How did Belzedar get his hands on our Master's Orb?""We think he used a child," Belgarath answered seriously."The Orb won't strike an innocent."The dwarf snorted."There's no such thing as an innocent.All men are born corrupt." He turned his eyes back to Aunt Pol and looked appraisingly at her."You're getting fat," he said bluntly."Your hips are as wide as an ox cart."Durnik immediately clenched his fists and went for the hideous little man.The dwarf laughed, and one of his big hands caught the front of the smith's tunic.Without any seeming effort, he lifted the surprised Durnik and threw him several yards away."You can start your second life right now if you want," he growled threateningly."Let me handle this, Durnik," Aunt Pol told the smith."Beldin," she said coolly, "how long has it been since you've had a bath?"The dwarf shrugged."It rained on me a couple months ago.""Not hard enough, though.You smell like an uncleaned pigsty."Beldin grinned at her."That's my girl." He chortled."I was afraid the years had taken off your edge."The two of them then began to trade the most hair-raising insults Garion had ever heard in his life.Graphic, ugly words passed back and forth between them, almost sizzling in the air.Barak's eyes widened in astonishment, and Mandorallen's face blanched often.Ce'Nedra, her face flaming, bolted out of earshot.The worse the insults, however, the more the hideous Beldin smiled.Finally Aunt Pol delivered an epithet so vile that Garion actually cringed, and the ugly little man collapsed on the ground, roaring with laughter and hammering at the dirt with his great fists."By the Gods, I've missed you, Pol!" he gasped."Come here and give us a kiss."She smiled, kissing his dirty face affectionately."Mangy dog.""Big cow." He grinned, catching her in a crushing embrace."I'll need my ribs more or less in one piece, uncle," she told him."I haven't cracked any of your ribs in years, my girl.""I'd like to keep it that way."The twins hurried across to the dwarf Beldin, carrying a large plate of steaming stew and a huge tankard.The ugly man looked curiously at the plate, then casually dumped the stew on the ground and tossed the plate away."Doesn't smell too bad." He squatted and began to stuff the food into his mouth with both hands, pausing only now and then to spit out some of the larger pebbles that clung to the chunks of meat.When he had finished, he swilled down the contents of the tankard, belched thunderously, and sat back, scratching at his matted hair with gravy-smeared fingers."Let's get down to business," he said."Where have you been?" Belgarath asked him."Central Cthol Murgos.I've been sitting on a hilltop since the Battle of Vo Mimbre, watching the cave where Belzedar took Torak.""Five hundred years?" Silk gasped.Beldin shrugged."More or less," he replied indifferently."Somebody had to keep an eye on Burnt-Face, and I wasn't doing anything that couldn't be interrupted.""You said you saw Belzedar," Aunt Pol said."About a month ago.He came to the cave as if he had a demon on his tail and pulled Torak out.Then he changed himself into a vulture and flew off with the body.""That must have been right after Ctuchik caught him at the Nyissan border and took the Orb away from him," Belgarath mused."I wouldn't know about that.That was part of your responsibility, not mine.All I was supposed to do was keep watch over Torak.Did any of the ashes fall on you?""Which ashes?" one of the twins asked."When Belzedar took Torak out of the cave, the mountain exploded -blew its guts out.I imagine it had something to do with the force surrounding One-Eye's body.It was still blowing when I left.""We wondered what had caused the eruption," Aunt Pol commented."It put ash down an inch deep all over Nyissa.""Good.Too bad it wasn't deeper.""Did you see any signs-""-of Torak stirring?" the twins asked."Can't you two ever talk straight?" Beldin demanded."We're sorry-""-it's our nature."The ugly little man shook his head with disgust."Never mind.No.Torak didn't move once in the whole five hundred years.There was mold on him when Belzedar dragged him out of the cave.""Did you follow Belzedar?" Belgarath asked."Naturally.""Where did he take Torak?""Now where do you think, idiot? To the ruins of Cthol Mishrak in Mallorea, of course.There are only a few places on earth that will bear Torak's weight, and that's one of them.Belzedar will have to keep Ctuchik and the Orb away from Torak, and that's the only place he could go.The Mallorean Grolims refuse to accept Ctuchik's authority, so Belzedar will be safe there.It will cost him a great deal to pay for their aid, but they'll keep Ctuchik out of Mallorea - unless he raises an army of Murgos and invades.""That's something we could hope for," Barak said."You're supposed to be a bear, not a donkey," Beldin told him."Don't base your hopes on the impossible.Neither Ctuchik nor Belzedar would start that sort of war at this particular time - not with Belgarion here stalking through the world like an earthquake." He scowled at Aunt Pol [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]