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."And do not forget the book!" The One still spoke in a thousand rumbling voices, but the noise did not disturb the sentries."The Cyrinishad is everything!""Of course, Mighty One.It is sacred.And am I to understand that it will it stop me from hitting-""Listen to me, fool!" Cyric grabbed me by the shoulders, and his fingers sank into my flesh to the depth of the first joints."You must understand how much depends on you.""Yes.I am listening." What else could I do?The One's talons dug deeper still."The Cyrinishad is my only defense! It will make them see.When they read it, they will bow before me and beg the honor of kissing my feet.They will plead for mercy, and even Ao will have no choice.""Ao?""Yes.He will understand what I have made of myself.He will see that I can watch over Faerun alone, that I do not need them -" Here, Cyric suddenly tore his talons from my shoulders and backed away, and he cast many furtive glances in all directions.Then he straightened, and hissed in a thousand whispers, "It depends on me, of course.Everything does.""Mighty One?""Who shall live.Who shall die.What is, what shall be." His dark eyes flashed."Imagine I am watching from above, hovering in the sky as mortals are wont to think we gods do…"What Cyric said here I have already told at the beginning, and there is no use recounting it, other than to describe how his words fed the doubts that had already risen in my mind.I listened in dumbfounded awe as he rambled on about how nothing is certain until he has beheld it and set it in place, and I heard with my own ears why all of Faerun called him Prince of Madness.My despair grew as black and bottomless as the Abyss, and I cursed myself for ever praising his name.When at last he finished, I stood gape-mouthed before him, so stunned I could not even tremble.Cyric smiled as a father smiles when he sends his son into battle in his own place."You must be fast, Malik.Very fast indeed.The trial begins at dawn."The trial?" I asked hoarsely.I had not yet learned of the events in the Pavilion of Cynosure, and so was greatly confused."Am I to be tried for-" In my fear, I could not bring myself to repeat the blasphemies I had uttered that morning."Your trial?" His words exploded with such fury that I was hurled against the portcullis."You dare worry about yourself? You are nothing to them!"By what he had stated earlier, I took "them" to be his fellow gods.They were not "begging for mercy" now, and I realized the trial at dawn was to be Cyric's.But I did not see how the Dark Sun would save himself by recovering the Cyrinishad.His fellows would never read it.They knew the awesome power of its truth and would go to any length to avoid looking upon its pages, for they were all vain and arrogant and had no wish to serve a master greater than themselves.Nor could they be tricked into reading the sacred book, even by the awesome cunning of the One.They were great gods, after all, and clever enough to avoid any hazard they knew so well.I was wiser than to speak these doubts aloud, as Cyric would not suffer gladly the skepticism of a mortal.I merely inclined my head and awaited the Dark Sun's next command."Go on," he said."Dawn is not far off." Thinking he had created some passage for me, I turned to find it.The Low Gate stood as before.But now I could see the sentries turning toward me, ever so slowly.To say their heads were inching around would have been a great exaggeration.When one man blinked, the act took as long as all that had passed between the One and me."What are you waiting for?" asked Cyric."Dawn is coming!" My answer was sure to displease.Still, I had no choice but to give it, since I could not pass through the gate as it was."Forgive me, Almighty One, for I have the wits of an ass and just one good eye." Naturally, I made no mention of whose doing this was."But I thought you might provide me some way to enter."Cyric's burning black eyes flared in the empty sockets beneath his brow."Idiot! If I could do that, I would get the book myself.If I were to endow you with my power, Oghma's magic would make you as blind to the book as it does me.Only a mortal – an unaided mortal – can find the Cyrinishad.""Unaided?" I gasped."But I am no thief, no warrior! Even if I get into the citadel, how am I to defeat the book's guardians?""How does not matter."This was a terrible thing to hear, and not only on my own account.I was shrewd in the ways of cheating the scale and claiming one cargo is another, but I had never stolen a thing from another man's home, nor killed any person except through the exchange of gold, nor was I certain how to accomplish these things.Counting on someone like me in such a great and dangerous matter was more than folly – it was insane! Cyric could only be as mad as his enemies claimed, and if I obeyed him, I would certainly be killed.I threw myself at his feet and wrapped my arms about his legs."Holy One, I beg you! Find one more worthy! If you rely on me, you will never see the Cyrinishad again!""I will.Look what you have done already.Who else would have left his mansion to live in the mud? Given up his fortune to beg for his dinner? Forsaken the envy of his peers to grovel before strangers?" The thousand voices of the One spoke with unaccustomed gentleness."You will do this thing not because I command it – though I do – but for the same reason you have done all these other things: because you have no choice."The One reached down and grasped my arms with great delicacy, and I dared not speak as he pulled me to my feet."And, Malik, you will succeed.Do you know why?"I could but shake my head."You will succeed, because if you do not – if you fail me, or merely die trying – I will let Kelemvor take your Faithless soul."FiveMystra and Kelemvor manifested themselves outside Oghma's palace, which never looked the same on any two visits.Today, they faced a many-domed alcazar of snow-white stone, with a long garden pool to reflect its splendor.No wall enclosed the grounds, nor did any gate control access; the House of Knowledge was open to all who troubled to visit.Mystra and Kelemvor squandered no time upon the beauty of the alcazar, for they had much to do before Cyric's trial.They floated down the alameda, past throngs of scholars engrossed in debate.Myriad bards pressed forward to sing ballads praising magic and death, and countless fiends and seraphim stopped to bow, their arms laden with charts and manuscripts.The two gods ignored them all.They reached the palace and passed through its arched entrance into a vast foyer, where the vaulted ceiling was inscribed with the names of the innumerable learned who had died and been taken into the House of Knowledge by their loyal god."Truly, the stars have favored my house today!" Oghma's voice was a song.He stood in the doorway to the next room, dressed in snug trousers, billowing tunic, and loose turban."To have two visitors of such distinction!""Fortune did not bring us here, as you well know," said Mystra.She pushed brazenly past Oghma into the vast library beyond."We have come to discuss the trial."Oghma frowned."We should do that at the trial [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]