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The engineer threw a line of purple farther back around Alucius s probe.
Alucius expanded his probe just slightly, and the purpleness shattered away.
Vestor fired another gout of purple force at Alucius, and Alucius deflected
it, then twisted the probe, just about ready to break the node, when the arm
Alucius felt himself stagger.
A second arm appeared, larger and more massively defended than the first and
second ones had been, arrowing toward Alucius.
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Alucius jabbed a probe into a smaller node, less defended, but more toward the
attacking end of the tentacle-like arm. The last two yards of the arm vanished
in a spray of purple threads.
Another bolt of purple flared toward Alucius, one that he barely managed to
parry before throwing a quick blast of golden green at the engineer.
Vestor grunted, but the ruby mist-arm began to thicken and grow again,
undulating through the air of the
Table chamber toward Alucius.
Alucius could see the purple Talent-armor of the engineer thinning. Hurriedly,
he drove a second probe at Vestor s main lifethread node, where the two
threads the one from the Table and the one of the engineer
himself intertwined. After a moment of resistance, Alucius s probe was
through, and into the node, where he twisted deftly, but savagely.
The purpled lifethread exploded into thousands of smaller threads, unraveling
and fraying into ever-smaller pieces.
The engineer gaped at Alucius, as if he were seeing the overcaptain for the
very first time.
Alucius did not hesitate, but struck a second time, severing the remaining
As Vestor s knees buckled, the engineer s pale face crumpled and darkened.
Then he pitched forward onto the stone floor.
Alucius swallowed as the Table sucked in the few remaining smaller threads of
what had been the monstrous purple-black lifethread. As the last thread
vanished into the Table, the building shivered. A
flash of purple light visible only with Alucius s Talent flared from the Table
through the chamber, and
Alucius could feel that at least part of the Table had died, or had ceased to
work, with the death of the engineer.
For several moments, despite the shaking of the building, Alucius just stood
there, breathing deeply and trying to catch his breath. He felt as though he
had run a vingt or more at full speed, and yet he had barely moved twenty
yards since he had come through the Table.
The vibrations continued, and the building began to sway more violently. A
large stone wall tile, weighing as much as Alucius, vibrated out of the inner
walls of the chamber, crashing down onto the floor stones with an impact that
shook Alucius and sent cracks radiating through the stone floor. Before the
vibration from that impact died away, a second stone followed the first, and
an ominous creaking and groaning filled the building.
Alucius could hear men yelling, their voices muffled by the grinding of stones
and continued shaking of the structure and the earth.
More stones fell.
Alucius glanced from the door to the Table. As a wide crack appeared in the
wall beside him, he jumped onto the Table, and concentrated on seeking the
purple-black conduit.
This time, he dropped through or into the Table quickly.
Once more, chill surrounded him, and the shock was greater because of how hot
Alucius had become in
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battling the engineer. Within the blackness and chill, he paused for a moment,
although he doubted time passed quickly or at all in the dark conduit. Now
what? He hadn t expected to have to flee from a collapsing building through
the Table. Could he return to the hidden city and regroup?
He began to search for the golden thread lying beyond the black conduit& but it
was impossibly distant as though it had been moved. He pressed toward it, and
it vanished. He tried keeping it in mind and moving away, but that had no
effect either. Neither did trying to move himself to the golden thread, which
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wavered just out of his Talent-reach.
He could feel the chill seeping into his very being. Why was it so hard to
find the nodes back to the hidden city or to use them?
Because the soarers didn t want him returning? Because, now that he knew how
to do it, they had taken steps so that he and others could not?
With near desperation, Alucius began to search for the blue arrow, the one
that would return him to
Tempre and the Recorder of Deeds. As he did, he could see that the silver
arrow had faded but it had not vanished, although it continued to fade. He
drove himself or his being toward the blue arrow& willing himself beyond it.
At that moment, a brilliant blue light coruscated around him.
Two figures lurched backfrom the Table of the Recorders as Alucius appeared
upon it, steamlike mist evaporating from his face and figure. His skin was
chill, as if the sweat had turned to ice, then sublimated away.
Alucius glanced from the Recorder to the second man, who resembled the
Lord-Protector, but who was shorter, stockier, and younger. Then, his eyes
focused on the Recorder, who lifted a pistol-like weapon.
 Get him, Waleryn, if you value your life. He is an evil spirit who will steal
your very being! snapped the
Alucius barely managed to drop behind the Table as the light-knife flared over
his head. Stone droplets pattered down onto the floor, and the odor of hot
stone or metal filled the ancient chamber. From behind the Table, he quickly
reached out with his Talent-probe and touched Waleryn s lifethread, enough to
stun the man, who sagged to the floor, his fingers momentarily grasping at the
edge of the Table, before he slumped forward.
The Recorder said nothing, but another blast of bluish light flared into the
wall behind Alucius, more stone droplets sprayed across the stones, and an
acrid scent filled the room.
Alucius extended his Talent-probe to the light-knife, unraveling the
connections between the crystals.
 Waleryn! snapped the Recorder.  Weakling& 
Alucius eased up from behind the Table, facing the ifrit, checking the
monstrous lifethread, and probing for the most vulnerable of nodes.
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The Recorder leveled the light-knife at Alucius, but no light beam flared from
the weapon, and he set it on the Table.  That will not help you long.
The all-too-familiar ruby mists began to rise from the Table, and as they did,
a wall of purplish power slammed toward Alucius.
Alucius formed a golden green wedge and let the force flare around him, then
struck back, aiming at the node where the Recorder s lifethreads intertwined, [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]