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.Pontswain, too, joined them, though he avoided meeting the prince's gaze.He stared around the battlefield and the vast, blue bay where the enemy army had once stood.His expression passed between disbelief and sullen brooding."The cliff is steep, but we can get down it in a couple of places," Daryth said."More serious is the water – but there's a few strong swimmers among the men.If we can't attract a fishing boat or something, we can send them to the mainland to get a boat or two.""How many men do we have left?" asked the prince."About three hundred," said the Calishite.Tristan felt a wave of sadness for the deaths.He remembered O'Roarke's sacrifice with a particular pang."And seventy-nine of my dwarves," said Finellen, staring at the ground.She looked up with an expression of fierce determination."But that's more than I ever thought would live through this fight.My lad, you've got some very powerful friends."The prince looked at Robyn and took her hand.She slid to his side and leaned against him.They drew strength from each other."The prophecy," she said softly."Do you remember what you told me?"Tristan shook his head."I haven't given it a thought.""Wind and fire, earth and sea, all shall fight for him, when it is time for him to claim his throne.'"He sat up straight, remembering the magic of Robyn's runestick."The wind drove the gas away, in Doncastle.And the fire – that routed the Scarlet Guard at Hickorydale.""And I saw those earth-guys come out of the ground and pound on the ogres!" said Newt."They were really something, too – but not like the earthquake! Did you see that? Boy, you should have if you missed it!""And the earthquake," finished Robyn, "was the sea pounding against the cliffs, carrying away the land!"Tristan still shook his head."It's an amazing coincidence, but it can't be me! Remember, the prophecy starts out: 'His name shall be Cymrych.'"Finellen snorted in amusement."Have you ever heard of anybody named Cymrych?" she asked."Not in my lifetime, no.""Well, neither have I – in your lifetime, that is.Now, I don't mix with humans much – nothing personal, you understand – but one thing that comes from living four centuries is a little bit of knowledge."Tristan was surprised to learn the dwarf's age."Used to be, when I was a youngster, half the humans around Gwynneth were named Cymrych – all after Cymrych Hugh, of course.Got so you couldn't tell the western Cymrychs from the southern Cymrychs from the – well, you get the picture."From what I gather, the names were changed – altered slightly so that you could tell which branch of the family you were talkin' about.""Altered to what?" asked the prince."All kinds of things.Cymrych -" She took time to pronounce the word carefully."Kim-Rick became Kimball, Cambridge, Kincaid…" Finellen paused."And Kendrick.""So your name is Cymrych, in a sense!" said Pawldo, clapping the prince on the back."Congratulations, Your Majesty! How about a knighthood for your faithful halfling companion?"Tristan laughed, but he was too dazed to answer.He had wanted to lead the Ffolk into a period of unity and strength.But an hour ago he had been certain that he would be dead by now.The transition was too sudden for his mind to grasp."Look!" cried Fiona, suddenly leaping to her feet.She stood at the edge of the precipice, pointing downward."What's that?"The prince sprang to her side, staring down the hundred-foot cliff into the green waves rolling below.A circle of whiteness, a shimmering whirlpool, marked the surface of the water, swirling in a growing pattern and calming the waves around it."It's her," Robyn said mysteriously.The circle of water suddenly exploded upward in a foaming geyser, spewing higher and higher from the surface in a fountain of gushing water.Twenty, forty, eighty feet it spouted upward, and still it climbed.There was no sign of anything but frothing, turbulent water.But Tristan understood who Robyn meant.Finally the fountain reached a level with them, and here it stopped its climb.For a full minute they stared, amazed, at the display.The surviving men and dwarves gathered around their leaders, standing in a semicircle at the top of the cliff, wondering at the portent of this fabulous exhibition.The fountain was not twenty feet away from them, though it rose straight from the water, so sheer was the drop here.And then the fountain tipped and sprayed them all in a shower of unnaturally warm brine.The watchers stumbled back from the cliff, sputtering and wiping spray from their eyes.When they could see again, the fountain was gone.It had sunk without a trace into the rolling green swell.But before them, sitting on the wet grass at the edge of the bluff, was an object that had not been there before – an object of gleaming, iridescent gold.Droplets of water clung to its shining surface, capturing and reflecting the rays of the sun in a thousand brilliant colors.It was a plain object, for all its precious metal: a circlet of gold, with eight points rising along its circumference.It was less than a foot in diameter."The Crown of the Isles," whispered Robyn, kneeling.Tristan's knees grew weak, and he sank to them before the golden circlet.Robyn gingerly picked up the crown.She closed her eyes and breathed a short, silent prayer, and then she placed it upon the head of her prince.Tristan was struck dumb, and he could not speak.Instead, he climbed carefully to his feet, conscious of the precious weight upon his head, and he turned to the men of Doncastle.Their cheer sounded like a challenge to battle."Long live the king! Hail to King Kendrick!" The cry echoed across the placid bay, off the shore of the mainland, and back to them, where it grew in volume and enthusiasm.Robyn seized him and kissed him.Tristan felt giddy with joy.But then he gently broke from her embrace, looking tenderly into her tear-streaked eyes.He looked over the cheering men saw Daryth's and Finellen's beaming faces.And he looked out to sea, across the rolling gray swells that separated him from Corwell.Robyn sensed his uneasiness and clung to him as she spoke."You're right," she said, reading his mind."The danger is not past.Come with me to free the druids of the Vale.""Of course – as soon as we get a boat.""I'm coming, too!" said Pawldo."And me," nodded Daryth."This is the first sensible plan you've suggested on this journey!" said Pontswain, visibly brightening at the prospect of returning to Corwell.He stole a surreptitious look at the golden crown, and his eyes flashed with desire."I've got to go that way, anyway," groused Finellen."I suppose I could stop and see the grove.""We're going home?" Newt was beside himself.Even Yazilliclick jumped to his feet and clapped his hands.Robyn looked at Fiona, inviting her to join them."My place is here in Callidyrr," said the young woman.She brushed the filthy hair back from her face and smiled."Someone has to announce the news of the new king! With these men of Doncastle, I will see that Caer Callidyrr is ready to receive you when you return!"Robyn's throat tightened and she looked away, her eyes scanning the vast surface of the sea.The placid water looked somehow ominous, as if it masked a threat they had yet to understand.I'm frightened, she thought with a shiver.But she kept her fears to herself.* * * * *Bhaal snarled his frustration across the realm of Gehenna, He crashed his clublike fist against the mountainside, breaking away chunks of stone that tumbled free to fall for eternity down the never-ending slope [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]