A Shadow of All Night Falling - Part 2: Hunters of Worlds

Interlude VI: These Acts of Hateful Strife

© 2006 by E. Liddell


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<<My Lord!>>

He shook his head, only half-woken by the summons despite the light streaming in through the tent flap. It must be one of the young ones. None of those who had been with him from the first would have given him that title.

<<What is it?>> he asked.

<<The mist is gone!>>

That brought him fully awake. <<Are you certain?>>

The response that he received was not in words, but in images of white light exploding from a hilltop and the feel of familiar magic.

That was one of us! And yet... I'm the only one who should have been powerful enough to do such a thing alone, and Iknow I wasn't responsible. And I'm certain that felt like one person's energies, not those of a Weave, but there was something else subtly wrong... I have to find out who did that!

<<Wake Andalusite,>> he commanded. <<Tell her that I'll be there shortly.>>

He dragged clothes left over from the previous day onto his body, wrinkling his nose at the smells. He would have preferred to return home and change, but he couldn't spare the time or the energy for a teleport just then, not on two hours of sleep after having been up all night fighting demons.

She was waiting for him outside, fully dressed in her armour, her hair braided and coiled around her head so as to fit under the helmet that she held. Suddenly self-conscious, he ran his hands through his own unruly, multicolored mane and tugged his sleeveless shirt straight. She looked every inch the leader, even though she was only his second-in-command, but he had never felt that he fit the part himself.

"Adamant," she greeted him. "You're sure this is important?"

"Would I be dragging you out of bed if it weren't?" But he wasn't certain that he was telling the truth. It was his curiosity, not his precognition, that was drawing him. "Are you ready?" Unobtrusively, he also asked the question of the Crystal Weaver guards who would accompany them, who were out of sight but always within reach of his mind.

All the responses were affirmative, and so he initiated the teleport.

He was forced to shield his eyes when they emerged from nonspace. The sun hadn't seemed so bright down among the tents, but he had been leading a nocturnal existence for so long, hunting demons through the twilit realm that many of them preferred, that he had almost forgotten what daylight was like.

"Over here!"

Andalusite was kneeling beside something--no, someone, someone dressed in grey and white, lying unconscious on the ground. She was rolling him over onto his back, revealing a second man, who was pinned underneath him.

"There's no question of this one not being one of ours, I think," she said, indicating the first man, who had the fine features and slanted eyes of one born of Crystal Weaver parents.

"They both are," Adamant replied, wondering why he was so certain. The second man did not display the racially distinct cast of feature of his people, but wore a faintly glowing blue crystal on a thin black chain. The first man wore no such ornament, but clutched something tightly in one hand that seemed to be of about the right size to be a spirit crystal.

The Crystal Weaver commander bent down to touch the second man's crystal, and stiffened. Demon? But he feels like one of us, too, and they destroyed a demon... He turned to check the first man, wondering, and found the same faint traces of demonic power... and something even more puzzling.

It was difficult to push the cuff of the unconscious stranger's jacket up far enough to keep it from obscuring the intense source of power that he sensed lying directly underneath, but he persisted until he succeeded. Having seen, and touched, and verified the reality of what he had found with senses both physical and otherwise, he straightened up, frowning. He recognized his own work--how not?--but it was coupled with more subtle wrongness...

"We'll take them back to camp," he decided, "but carefully. I want them kept under guard until we find out who they are and what they're doing here."

Goto Chapter 25


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