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.I'll go to find Fallion and plead with him to unbind the worlds.Rain lay in the deep grass beneath the shadows of the cliff, as silent as the boulders around her.She'd heard Borenson trudging home in the dark, tramping through the dry leaves that she'd swept onto the trail.She didn't understand everything that the giant had said, but she understood enough.The Borensons would be going away.Rain chewed her lip, thought about her own family.Her father had killed men for her benefit.He'd stolen and lied to bring her family here, where they might have some hope of living in peace and safety.She tried to imagine what it would be like to sail back to Mystarria with the Borensons, and she couldn't envision it.It would be a betrayal to her father, to people who had sacrificed everything for her honor.There is only one thing to do, she decided.I'll have to convince Draken to stay here, with me.After Borenson left, Myrrima tried to sleep.There was a patch of sandy ground among the rocks, where a little sweet clover grew.Myrrima had gathered a few ferns and laid the leaves out as a cushion.That was all that the family had for a bed, and she huddled with Sage for warmth, their bodies spooned together.The child felt so cold.Today was supposed to be the High Summer Festival, and because it was high summer, Myrrima didn't feel much need for a blanket.Yet sleep failed her.The Walkins were all spread out in a separate camp, perhaps a hundred yards up the trail.While their fire died, Myrrima lay like a dazed bird, her mind racing from all that Borenson had told her.While she rested there, eyes hardly blinking, she saw a girl tiptoeing down the trail, making not a sound.A mouse would have been hard-pressed to walk as quietly.Rain is coming to see Draken, Myrrima thought.She can't bear to leave him alone.Somehow, the realization gladdened her.Draken had lost so much already, Myrrima hoped that he would find a lasting love.A cool wind blew over her, and Myrrima felt a sudden chill.It was cold, so cold.Just as quickly, she realized that it wasn't the wind.The cold seemed to be inside her—reaching down to the bone.And the young woman coming toward her made too little sound.She was leaping over rocks, marching through deep grass and dry leaves.Myrrima recognized the young woman now.It was Erin.It was the shade of her daughter, glowing softly, as if with some inner light.Yet her form was translucent.Myrrima pushed herself up in a sitting position, heart racing.To be touched by a shade might mean her death.Myrrima's every instinct was to run.Yet she longed to see her child one last time."Ware the shade!" someone in the Walkin clan hissed in the distance.It was an ancient warning.Erin came, passing near Myrrima's bed.Her feet moved as if she was walking, but her body only glided, as if carried on the wind.She was dressed just as she had been in death.She went past the edge of camp, over to her own still body, and stood for a moment, looking down, regarding it calmly.Myrrima dared hope that the shade might notice her.Very often, the dead seemed only vaguely aware of the living, so Myrrima didn't expect much.But a loving glance would have warmed Myrrima's heart.A smile of recognition would have been a lifelong treasure.The spirit knelt above her body, reached down a finger, and stroked her own lifeless chin.Myrrima found tears streaming down her cheeks; she let out a sob, and hurriedly shook Sage, waking her, so that she too might see her sister one last time.Then Erin turned and peered straight into Myrrima's eyes.Instantly the child drew close, covering eighty feet in the flutter of a heartbeat, and she did something that no shade on Myrrima's world had ever done before: Erin spoke, her child's voice slicing through the air like a rapier."What are you doing here, Mother? You should go to the tree."Myrrima's throat caught.She was too astonished to speak.But Sage had risen up on one elbow, and she spoke: "What tree?"Erin looked to Sage."The Earth King's tree: one of you should go there before night falls again.Before night falls forever."A sob escaped Myrrima's throat.She longed to touch her daughter."I love you."Erin smiled."I know.You mustn't worry.All of the neighbors are here.They're having a wonderful festival!" She pointed east, up toward Mill Creek.As if carried on the wind, Myrrima suddenly heard the sounds of the fair: a joyful pandemonium.Minstrels strummed lutes and played the pipes and banged on drums.She heard the young men cheer uproariously as a lance cracked in a joust.There were children screaming with wild glee.In all her life, Myrrima had never heard such sounds of joy.Then Erin peered at her again, and said, "Go to the Earth King's tree!"With that, the shade dissipated like a morning mist burning beneath the sun.Yet though Erin's form was gone, Myrrima still felt the chill of the netherworld.Sage climbed to her feet and stood peering off into the east."Why does she want us to go to the Earth King's tree?"Myrrima had no idea.She knew where the tree lay, of course.It was an oak tree—the only one in all of Landesfallen, up on Bald Hill, past the town of Fossil.Legend said that before the Earth King died, he'd traveled the world, seeking out people, putting them under his protective spell.When he'd reached Bald Hill, he was an old man, failing in health.So he'd used the last of his powers to transform himself into a tree.Thus he stood there still, in the form of an oak, watching over the world."He's coming back!" Sage suddenly exulted as an odd notion took her."The Earth King is returning!"Myrrima stood, studied her daughter's clear face in the starlight, saw wonder in Sage's eyes."He can't be," Myrrima said calmly."Gaborn is dead."But Sage was too enamored of the idea."Not dead," she said, "transformed.He's a wizard of wondrous power [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]