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Crusader

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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The Enchanted Song Book. DragonStar slowly unwrapped it.

“We deciphered the melodies, and then the dances,” Axis said. “They were … unusual.”

“They are the key to the destruction of the Demons,” DragonStar said.

Axis stared at his son, remembering the dawn when Caelum had tried one of the dances atop Star Finger. “DragonStar … DragonStar, be careful with them. Caelum —”

“Caelum was not the StarSon —” DragonStar began, but Axis interrupted angrily.

“You have inherited all the damn SunSoar arrogance in its full blindness!” he said. “Listen to me, damn you!”

DragonStar dropped his eyes. “I am sorry, Axis. What happened?”

Slowly Axis described the dance’s affect on Caelum. “It was as if he was consumed by hatred and violence. The dance did that to him … it infused him with whatever malevolence it had been made from.”

“Qeteb was originally trapped by mirrors that reflected his own malevolence back on him,” DragonStar said slowly. “He would never let that happen to him again. The dances, the melodies the book contain,” his fingers tapped the cover thoughtfully, “will have the same action as the mirrors originally did.”

“Maybe,” Axis said, “and maybe not.”

Chapter 7 A Wander Through, and Into, Sanctuary (#ulink_516dae87-1d16-50ab-a3a6-7969ebc2f289)

Faraday, Zenith and StarDrifter were wandering slowly along one of the paths Sanctuary had provided for the comfort, pleasure and exercise of all who sheltered within its confines. It was, StarDrifter thought — and with a distinct, but not entirely successful, effort to avoid couching the thought in unpleasant overtones — just like it was on the Island of Mist and Memory. Me, Zenith … and Faraday’s constant presence between us. Even her physical presence, for Faraday literally separated Zenith and StarDrifter as they walked abreast down the wide path.

Not even Sanctuary works in my favour, StarDrifter thought, for if the path were just the slightest bit narrower, then mayhap Faraday would have to walk behind Zenith and myself, and I could have the contentment of the odd fleeting touch as my elbow brushed the fabric of Zenith’s lavender gown.

And mayhap not, for StarDrifter was sure if the path were narrow, he would be the one left to wander lost behind whilst Faraday and Zenith linked arms — as they had now — and chatted happily without him.

Aye, he thought, this is just like the Island of Mist and Memory, for Zenith feels more comfortable with me when someone else is present. It is as if she only feels at ease relating to me through someone else.

She only laughs freely when there is someone else present to protect the space between her and I.

She only smiles at me when someone else is there to act as a filter for her joy.

She only tilts eyes of love in my direction when there is someone else her glance can bounce off first.

StarDrifter was not feeling happy about the situation at all, but there was nothing he could, or wanted, to do. Zenith had to take her own time in learning to accept her love for him, or there would be no future time for the two of them at all.

The shared strolls through Sanctuary’s soft daytime were bad, but there was nothing as bad as the long velvet nights adrift in his lonely bed knowing that Zenith had been born to share it, but knowing also she refused to do so … because…

… because she found his touch repulsive! StarDrifter shivered in utter panic. How could he ever shift from grandfather to lover in her mind?

“StarDrifter?” Zenith said, and StarDrifter jumped.

“Hmmm?”

“Look, we approach Sanctuary’s answer to the Avarinheim. I wonder which Avar Clan we will encounter first? The JeppelSand Clan were here yesterday …”

StarDrifter truly didn’t care, but he tried his best to summon an outward semblance of interest. They were within a hundred paces of a dark forest, and yet StarDrifter knew that on entering that forested darkness, they would find only space and light and music, just like the original Avarinheim.

And no doubt some Clan that both Faraday and Zenith would insist on sitting down with and sharing some in-depth conversation about the preparation of malfari bread, or some such.

Women! Didn’t they understand that there were other pleasures to pursue?

But now Faraday was pulling back a little.

“I don’t know,” she said, and both StarDrifter and Zenith halted and regarded her.

“Faraday,” Zenith said, and reached out her hand to hold one of Faraday’s. “Isfrael is generally deep within the forest, and even if he isn’t, he is hardly likely to linger about and disturb our morning.”

Faraday did not answer, staring at the forest and chewing her lip. She loved chatting to the Avar, and they just as obviously enjoyed her visits, but the occasional meeting with Isfrael, even the glimmer of his hostile eyes behind the shadowy overhang of a branch, tended to send chills trampling up and down her spine.

“Perhaps you and StarDrifter should go on,” she said, and StarDrifter’s entire countenance brightened.

“Perhaps that’s best!” he said, and took Zenith’s hand to lead her away. “Zenith, Faraday obviously doesn’t want to —”

“Faraday! Zenith! StarDrifter!”

They all turned and looked back down the path.

Azhure was walking quickly — and yet with such lithe grace that StarDrifter’s breath caught slightly in his throat — towards them.

She smiled with exquisite loveliness as she reached them, and now StarDrifter’s breath caught completely, not so much for Azhure’s beauty, as alluring as it was, but for the resemblance to Zenith’s smile on her face.

“Faraday,” Azhure said softly. “Drago … DragonStar has returned.”

Faraday’s face paled completely, and her green eyes widened. She let go of Zenith’s hand, and looked past Azhure towards the distant palace complex. An expression akin to panic flooded her face.

“Go to him,” Azhure said softly. “Axis and I have talked to him, and now, perchance it is your time.”

Faraday’s eyes focused back on Azhure. “You talked …?”

“Faraday, go to him.”

Faraday looked once more at the distant palace. She and Azhure had talked at length in the days that Drago (why did Azhure call him DragonStar?) had remained above in Tencendor. At first, Faraday had wanted to talk Azhure into accepting her son back into her love, but had found it not necessary. Azhure had been won over the instant Drago had looked at her with unhindered love in that dank basement chamber in Star Finger. Instead, Faraday had found herself being lectured by Azhure on accepting her own love for Drago.

She and the Mother must somehow be in cohorts, Faraday had thought at the time.

But she had listened to Azhure, nevertheless, as she had listened to the Mother.

“I must get Katie,” Faraday said. “She’s with Leagh and Gwendylyr in —”

“No,” Azhure said. “Katie can wait.”

“I —”

“Go,” Azhure said, and took Faraday’s hand and pulled her very slightly down the path. “Go.” Faraday nodded, and went.

Isfrael watched his mother walk down the path with cold eyes, and even colder thoughts.

The Avar tolerated — nay, welcomed — his presence among them, but Isfrael was ever aware that they regarded him as one of them, not as one above them.

That place they now reserved for Faraday. Their Tree Friend was once more among them. She had returned in the hour of direst danger, and led them to safety.

Better his mother had stayed in legend, Isfrael thought, as he had thought a thousand times since he’d entered this pitiful underground dungeon they called “Sanctuary”.

Better … better if she returned to legend.

Aye, far better.

Isfrael turned his back and walked into darkness.

Faraday smoothed the white linen of her gown nervously, tweaking out a fold that had become caught under the Mother’s rainbow sash still wound about her waist.

For a moment she rested her hand on the faint outline of the twisted arrow and sapling that rested in the folds of the sash.

Then she raised her eyes and looked at the closed door before her. Here Azhure said Drago was waiting.

Here, the chamber he had taken as his own. Right next door to Axis and Azhure’s chamber, which Faraday could not help wonder was a deliberate action on his part.
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