Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Day 56

I had actually woken a little earlier, and put some water to heat over the fire before dozing off again, so I'd been vaguely aware of Memree and Cleve returning, and, in a sleepy way, surprised that Memree half-fainted and had to be supported by Cleve. And was that the armoured fighter Cuirass with them?

Luckily, a large block of rock was suddenly alongside us, and the child-creature Sprite was sitting on it, his bare chest wrapped round with bandages. "Well, I did try to warn you", he began. "'Whatever happens here', I said. I couldn't really let you in on my plan, or that Atzmon woman wouldn't have been convinced."

Cleve glared up at him. "Well that was a rotten trick to play on us, on poor Memree especially - she saw her friend killed in front of her eyes."

"It was", Sprite agreed. "But otherwise, if I hadn't taken Charol's place, then Cuirass here would have stayed under Atzmon's spell until she'd found the real one here, helpless, and killed her... and probably the pair of you, too."

"Hold on", I said. "Let me get this straight... while I was sleeping here, you pretended to be me, joined my friends in their search below, fought Cuirass as me, and got killed, as me...?"

"Not exactly killed", Sprite said patiently. "I do have a few talents of my own, but Cuirass ran me through with her sword most convincingly, and the psychic surge of that, combined with the magical aura around the castle area anyway, broke Atzmon's control over her... as you can tell from the way she isn't screaming and killing people at the moment."

I scratched my still-sleepy head. "I've got to get this all down in my book, maybe if I do, it will make some sort of sense."

Sprite laughed, a joyous, youthful sound. "Ah yes, your precious 'book' - you do that, I hope your faraway readers appreciate it all." He turned towards Cleve. "But, Cleve, you didn't get very far with Sunil, did you?"

"He said 'Why, stay here, then' - before Cuirass appeared."

"Ah, that means he reinforced my little spell... it will work forever, now, while you are in Grishelm."

"And when I leave...?"

Sprite was gently lowering himself off the block of stone, now, finding little foot-holds in its cracks and hanging on to the top. "No voice, Cleve - until you return." He let himself drop the last distance, landing lightly. "But you've seen some of this place's secrets...why not stay here?"

"It's very..." Cleve seemed lost for words.

"Be my friend!" Sprite seemed as young as he looked, now. "We could live by the sea - I could make you young and skinny like me." And he smiled, shifting awkwardly from one foot to the other.

"Well Cleve, you could do a lot worse", I remarked. "I don't think life here with this character would be dull." I resisted the urge to stroke the little god-child's curly hair. "But let's wait until we've settled our score with Atzmon, shall we?"

Cuirass nodded. "That sounds like the first order of business, Sera Charol."

"Yes", added Memree. "If she's grown a new head, let's go and lop this one off, shall we?"

And that's the plan for the morning. But getting these pages brought up to date has tired me out enough for one day. Again, my apologies for the necessary deception, but now we are back on track, and going after our old enemy, so tomorrow is going to be fun!

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