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.Wizards were not the only ones who could cast spells-an ancient wyrm such as this would have a great command of magic, could easily create an illusion of itself to serve as a distraction, luring overconfident intruders to their doom.The wyrm raised its blunt, crocodilian head; spread its jaws; and opened its moist, cavernous, fang-bracketed maw.The lethal gas that erupted in a greenish blast of mist seemed to move in slow motion-roiling and expanding as it billowed closer-but Dalamar found he was unable to move his feet, to summon any reaction.He stood there, frozen by stark horror, waiting for inevitable death.But Jenna completed her spell and now something new shimmered before them.Not a blast of ice, which Dalamar realized would have been ineffective again the monstrous beast, if his fire spell hadn't already done some damage, but a wall of shimmering crystal frost! It stood tall and broad, a translucent barrier.But it was incomplete-the cavern was too large, so it failed to reach either the cavern's ceiling or the distant walls.Still, the enchanted frost shielded them against the onrush of killing gas.But the massive cloud of dragon's breath couldn't be denied.It churned up and over the wall, tendrils of green poison reaching down toward the two wizards.The dark elf stumbled and ran.He gagged on the toxin, staggering and dropping his staff from suddenly nerveless fingers.Finally he tripped over a large stone and sprawled to the floor, scrambling to his hands and knees as he looked over his shoulder.The wall of ice shattered, then, as the dragon leaped right through it, its flaring snout smashing the barrier into crystal shards.Jenna, huddled to the side of the lingering cloud of dragon breath, fell back, shrinking against the wall.The serpent batted her with a swipe of its huge forepaw, and she tumbled across the floor.She screamed once, slumping against a stalagmite, and Dalamar heard a snap that could only be her breaking bones.She didn't move, didn't make any sound, as the dragon continued its charge, bearing down on the dark elf.Dalamar scrambled and clawed against the hard stone of the floor, with his doom only moments away.Chapter 17The Test of MagicThis door is protected by a powerful spell," Luthar explained to Coryn, indicating a normal-looking portal of wooden planks connected by iron straps."The first part of your Test requires that you open it."Looking over her shoulder, she noted the dour figure of Kalrakin staring at her intently.For the past day, while she rested and gathered her strength, she had not spied him, but she had felt his sinister presence in the Tower.Still, she had slept securely enough behind a stout, locked door.When she had awakened in the morning, there had been hot food in her room, and she had noticed with surprise that the gash where she had scraped herself against the tree was nearly healed.Luthar had eventually come to get her, leading her up flight after flight of steep stairs until they had come to this lofty hallway.Kalrakin had been waiting here, and now she glared at him."Are you going to stand there gawking? I don't think I'll be able to concentrate."The tall, beak-nosed sorcerer stiffened visibly, but then turned and stalked down the hallway to the landing at the top of the stairs."I'll stand over here if it helps your concentration in the slightest, which I doubt," he said, his expression twitching between smirking and glowering.Coryn was already ignoring him, studying the blank door.There didn't seem to be anything magical about it, not even when she closed her eyes and tried to picture and explore any hints of sorcery in those planks, or around the small metal lock.Perhaps it was that this whole place was so magical that the mere spell on a door was lost in the haze.Certainly, she sensed unusual emanations surrounding her, encouraging her.The Tower still suffered, she knew, though she hadn't glimpsed the Master since Kalrakin's appearance.But she felt implicitly that her presence was a balm to that pain.Oddly enough, she was suddenly filled with confidence, and she viewed the door as an inviting portal, drawing her toward a world of wonders.Safety awaited her there.Not perfect safety, to be sure, for the world was ever dangerous.But passage through the door would take her beyond the reach of Kalrakin's capricious violence.He would be left behind.Her eyes remained closed as she walked forward, feeling her way.In her mind she saw the door outlined in white light.Raising her hands, fingers extended, she advanced one step, then another, expecting to feel the touch of smooth, cool wood.But she met no resistance.The glow expanded, encompassing her, and she felt a tingle of pure joy.Still nothing blocked her path as, with two more steps, the glowing aura completely surrounded and embraced her.In surprise, she opened her eyes to see that she was enclosed in a place of utter darkness.At the same time, she heard an angry curse from somewhere behind her.Something smashed into a solid wooden barrier, pounding with a volley of repeated blows, and she had a vaguely satisfied image of Kalrakin throwing himself against the door, violently and futilely striving to follow her."Indeed, this must be my Test," she whispered, heartened by the sound of her own voice in the darkness.She felt a sense of ownership, of proprietorship.Though it was just a room, it was one of a very few from which the Master had managed to bar the trespassing sorcerers.And yet she had been allowed in.No, she had used her own magic to enter.Coryn reached back to touch the door and murmured the soft incantation of a light spell.Immediately a soft, diffuse glow surrounded her.She was in a medium-sized room, she saw at once.There was a single object, a large chest on a floor that was otherwise layered with a thick film of dust.Moving forward, she saw that the trunk was clean, as if it had just appeared in this long-disused chamber.Quickly she scanned the rest of the room, seeing no other exits or entrances.There was a round window in the far wall, secured by a wooden shutter so tight that no ray of daylight slipped through-if, indeed, it opened onto the outside of the Tower, as she assumed.She focused her attention on the chest, kneeling before it, the knee of her torn trousers raising a puff of dust from the floor.A large clasp secured the lid, and there was a keyhole- but no key in sight.Coryn touched the clasp and a word came into her mind, one she had read in Umma's secret book.She spoke it at once; the word made a strange sound, yet agreeable and even familiar on her tongue.A tiny light sparked, not at all unpleasantly, at her fingertip [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]