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.“What are you using all the quicksilver for? Are you minting gold?”He laughed.“Nothing so mundane! No, the liquid metal is essential for my work, that's all.But to return to you; this perpetual youth of yours, this is a valuable thing.”“I call it a curse.”Krago's brows went up.“Why?”She looked away from him.“To remain a child by size and temperament? Never to grow? Never to know the love of a mate?” Her gaze came back to him.“I call it a curse.”“Many humans would give much to live for hundreds of years, even in the body of a child,” Krago said.“So much time for research.Time to see the fruition of decades of work.” His eyes were distant.“Empty time,” she said.“Empty decades.”He looked her up and down.“There are probably cures for your condition.”Her eyes widened.“Cures? Would you have such a cure?”Krago tapped the side of his face with a finger and frowned at her in concentration.“An impurity of the blood keeps you in this state, I believe.I do have potions that can cleanse the blood.” He turned and regarded the shelves that formed the walls of his sleeping quarters.Mumbling to himself, he went to a section near Di An's stool and poked about in the vials and bottles.“There was something here-” he said.Bottles rocked and rattled as he rummaged through them.“Ah, this.” He lifted a yellowed glass bottle from the rear of the shelf and brushed dust and grime from it.“Four drops of this, taken when the Silver Moon is ascendant, should clear the metallic impurity,” he said.“It would be a fascinating experiment.” He put the bottle back on a lower shelf and looked at Di An.“Though I fail to see why you want to grow old and die.”Di An stared at the bottle.She tried to imagine what it would be like to be an adult.So many times in her two centuries of life she had cursed her smallness, her child's body.Since meeting the plainsmen, her desire to be an adult had increased.Would Riverwind care differently for her if she were truly a woman?A crash rose from the corner where the gully dwarves were working the furnace.The ore-scoopers had dumped a load of cinnabar over one of the pestle pounders, and the offended party was chasing the scoopers around, trying to brain them with the massive marble pestle.Despite the looks of outrage, it was an eerily silent fracas.For the gully dwarves did not utter a sound.“How do you keep them so quiet?” Di An asked.“I thought they talked all the time.”“Thouriss had their tongues cut out, so they couldn't talk of what they see,” Krago explained casually.“I must attend to them.”He left her sitting on the stool and went off to calm the gully dwarves.Di An pitied the unfortunate gully dwarves, but her attention had been captured by the yellow bottle on the shelf.She couldn't take her eyes off it.Should she take it now? She knew nothing about the moons of Krynn and their places in the sky.Would Krago actually help her?She glanced over her shoulder.Krago was embroiled in an argument with the Aghar.They mimed their woes to him as he urged them to get back to work.Di An slipped off the stool and snatched the bottle.She pulled the cork with her teeth and measured four drops into the palm of her hand.She licked the oily liquid off her palm and replaced the cork.She set the bottle back in its place on the shelf.Di An's tongue was numb where the potion had touched it.The numbness spread down her throat and across her jaws.Her eyes watered.A ringing started in her ears.Medicine wasn't supposed to hurt you-merciful gods, she'd poisoned herself!“No, no!” Krago burst out.“Put the ore in the mortar!”The elf girl staggered to her feet.Water-she had to have water.She wandered down the length of the bookshelf, searching through tearing eyes for a life-saving drink.The books and shelf swam before her eyes.Heat seemed to roar through her.She gasped for air.A stick of wood stuck out of the shelf, right at Di An's face level.She grasped the stick blindly to keep herself from falling.It swung down.With a clank, a section of bookcase swung inward.Oddly patterned light flooded over her.Without thinking, Di An had opened a secret door into a hidden portion of the chamber.Hoping that there was water in there, she entered.Dimly, Di An heard Krago shout behind her as she walked through the portal.It was very bright, this place, but the heat was less intense.Di An stumbled over a rise in the floor and went down on her hands and knees.She must have remained like this for a while, for the next thing she knew, Krago was there, pulling her to her feet.“What are you doing in here?” he was shouting at her.He peered closely at her white, strained face.“Did you take the potion?” Di An nodded dazedly.“Stupid girl! The time was not quite right.Who knows what the effect on you might be?”The glare lessened, and Di An realized it was an effect of the potion rather than the inner room itself.She was leaning against the inside of the wooden bookcase.Stomach cramps sliced through her slight body.She gasped and bent over.Then, Krago's hand was on her shoulder.“Drink this,” he said.She straightened and found he was holding a slim glass vial out to her.She didn't care what it was, as long as it made her feel better.It did.It halted her pain.The details of the room leaped into clarity, and the ringing in her head stopped.Di An looked past Krago and saw that the room was filled with all sorts of strange apparatus.Magic circles were drawn on the wall; sigils and glyphs of obscure purpose covered the stone floor.A double row of alembics, pelicans, and distilling retorts lined the walls.And in the center of it all was a great vat, cast in solid glass and braced with metal straps.Now that the torment of her body had eased, she took in the contents of the strange room.She had no idea what purpose all these things could serve.“What? What is it?” she said hoarsely.“You might as well know,” he said, folding his arms.With an exasperated sigh, Krago took the elf girl's hand.“Come and see the crowning achievement of my work.”The vat, eight feet in diameter, was filled to the rim with quicksilver [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]