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.And Lellin and Sezar in their service to me have kept me from taking other action, my lords.They know what you do not.By serving me.they have served you.”Merir’s lips made a taut line, and Lellin looked at the old lord, bowed to him very slowly, and to Morgaine.faced his grandfather again.“Of our own choice.” Lellin said.“Grandfather—the arrhendim are needed.Please.Come and look.They cover the riverside like a new forest.Come and look on this thing.” He cast an anguished glance about at all the arrha.“Come out of your grove and see this horde.You talk of taking it into Shathan.Of peace with it.as we found with the remnant of the sirrindim.Come and look on this thing.”“One more dangerous to us,” said the elder, “is already here.” And Gate-force flared, making the air taut as a drawn string.It shimmered about the elder.And it grew.One and another of the arrha began to bring forth that power, until the arrhendim flinched back against the wall, and the whole dome sang with it.“Liyo,” Vanye murmured, and whipped his sword from its sheath, for two of the arrha barred the doorway, and the air between shimmered with the barrier they formed.“Cease!” Morgaine shouted.The elder stamped the heel of his staff on the floor, a sound almost drowned in the taut air; his half-blind eyes were set rigidly.“Six of us have invoked the power.There are thirty-two.Surrender that which you bear.”“Liyo—”Morgaine slipped Changeling’s ring and dropped the sword to her hip.Vanye looked about him, at the elders, at the frightened arrhendim.and Roh, whose face was pale, but whose hands stayed from his weapons.“Two more,” said the elder.The singing in the air grew louder, numbing hearing, and Morgaine lifted her hand.“You know what the result will be,” she cried.“We are willing to die, all of us.The passage we open here may be wide enough to work ruin on the enemies of Shathan as well.But you who do not love this land.may not be willing to become part of that.One by one we shall add to the force.We do not know how many of us will be needed before the passage is complete, but we shall discover it.You cannot leave.You can try your other weapons.If you do, we will answer you with all we have.Or you can draw that sword and complete the passage beyond any doubt: its force with ours is sufficient beyond any argument.It will drink us all up, and more besides.But surrender that weapon and we shall deal well with you.Our word is good.You have nothing to fear from us.”Gate-force keened in the air.Another joined it.“Liyo,” Vanye said.Very small his voice sounded in that power.“Your other weapon—”She said nothing.He dared not look at what was happening before her, but kept his eyes to the arrhendim, who were at her back and armed; and Roh, Lellin and Sezar were apart from the others, fear in their faces, but they stood with arms folded and had never moved.“My lords!” Morgaine exclaimed suddenly.“My lord arrha! We are gaining nothing by this.Only your enemies gain.”“We have made our choice,” said Merir.“You sat here—sat here until I should become desperate enough to try to come stir you out of it.A trap of your working, lord Merir? It is a well-devised one.”“We are utterly willing,” said Merir, “to perish.We are old.There are others.But there is no need of it, unless you value power more than your own life.If we add many more jewels to the web, lady Morgaine, it will be accomplished.You sense that.So do I.” He held up his hand, with the jewel-case upon it.“Here is another mote of that power you hold.Perhaps this will complete it.It is that near.Shall I add it to the others?”“Enough! Enough.I see that you are capable of doing it.No more.”“Surrender the sword.”She unhooked it and grounded it point-down before her.“My lords of the arrha! Lord Merir is right.that is an evil thing.And there is only one of it, and that itself is a great evil, and subtle.You hold your power divided into many hands; whoever takes this, that one will be more powerful than all the others.Which? Who of you seeks it?”None answered.“You have never seen a Gate opened,” Morgaine said.“You have never summoned that power entire, counting that passage dangerous.You are right.Shall I show you? Damp that which you hold: I shall show you my meaning.Let me show you why Nehmin must cease to exist.You value reason, my lords; then listen to me.I have no terms.I come not to possess Nehmin by the threat of destroying it.I come to destroy it, whether or not the enemy is stopped.I do not want any power over you.”“You are mad,” said the elder.“Let me show you.Damp the jewels.If I do not convince you, the unveiling of only a few of them while Changeling is unsheathed will be sufficient for your purposes.and mine.You do not well reckon.that I also am willing to die for what I do.”The elder stepped back, bewilderment in his look.Merir made a helpless gesture.“She says well,” Merir said, “We can always die.”The force ebbed, more suddenly than it had grown, jewel after jewel winking into cover.And when it was utterly gone, Morgaine eased Changeling forth, crystal as the jewels, which were only motes that human flesh itself could obscure unharmed.Opal fire flowed along Changeling’s runes, and suffused the blade, and darkness flared at the tip of it, where the wind began.Someone cried out.Its light bathed all their faces.She moved it, and the wind grew stronger, whipping at the torches, tugging at hair and robes and howling within the dome.Vanye stepped back from her side, not even aware that he moved until he found himself near Lellin.“Here is the passage you would form!” Morgaine shouted over the roar of the wind.“Here it is open before you.Look into it.Have you courage now to add your jewels to that? A few of them would suffice, and this whole dome will be elsewhere, with us in it.The shock of air will level all the trees hereabouts, and perhaps, as you say, take a good part of the enemy with us.Or more than that, if the force leaks through to this side of here and now.This is the power that your fathers’ fathers’ fathers trifled with.You do well to avoid it.But what will your children do? What, when someday someone less wise than yourselves takes it up again? What, if I surrender the sword to you, and someday one of your folk draws it? On it is written the knowledge of the Gates.and it cannot be destroyed, save by one who will carry it unsheathed within a Gate, into the Fires.Who of you wants to go in my place? For any man who loves this world, for any man who holds this weapon and has anything of virtue left in him—there is only one choice in the end—and that is to take it out of this world, outside this world, and to keep going from world to world, forever.Is not a calamity written in your legends? The same calamity fell everywhere that such power has been.and it will come again, and again.That power must have an end.Does one of you want the sword? Does one of you want to carry it under those conditions?”She held it aloft, and the void gaped and howled.Roh was at her back; Vanye saw him, never took his eyes entirely from him.Roh’s face was rigid, his eyes reflecting that opal light.And suddenly Roh moved, fled, thrusting aside Sezar and Lellin, rushed past the arrha guards.the two of them too dazed to react [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]