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

Interlude X: The Bosom of Dim Night

© 2006 by E. Liddell

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The demon roared outside the little hollow that sheltered them.

He clung to the child in his arms. His son, his first--and, thus far, only--offspring.

"It's all right." He spoke aloud. The boy would have sensed his fear if he had used the mindtouch. "Everything's going to be fine. Lord Adamant and Lord Malachite are going to save us. I'm sure of it."

He was repeating the words over and over again, more or less by rote, and nearly smothering the boy against his chest. He didn't want his son to see the way the ward protecting them was beginning to flicker.

They didn't have much time.

Unobtrusively, he drew the knife that he carried at his belt partway from its sheath, and tested its edge. If the ward went down, he wanted his son to die quickly and cleanly. He didn't want the boy to experience the implacable horror of a demon's touch.

It would be a poor substitute for watching his child grow up, but it might be the best that he could do.

He rubbed his wrist, where his spirit crystal would normally have been pressed against his skin, and marveled that he didn't feel more nauseous. The strangers both had a deft touch with spirit crystals, it seemed, and were able to keep them shielded. It had been that, as much as anything, that had led him to elevate Malachite to the status of "lord", at least in his own mind.

He still wasn't certain that he had done the right thing in that regard. He had taken a chance, and he knew it. The look in Malachite's eyes when he had said that he trusted him had been almost comical. And yet he knew that Adamant, through Andalusite, had asked him to team up with the man for patrol in the first place because he was good at reading the subtle language whose vocabulary consisted of tiny shifts in posture and facial expression. It wasn't a magical talent, but it was sometimes useful all the same. And Malachite had inspired trust and liking despite his cold, impassive surface.

He looked up. It wasn't time for sunset yet, and, in any case, the haze that was the demon would have hidden the Stars, but that didn't really matter.

Please, he prayed. Let them succeed. Let us be safe one way or the other. Let my son be safe.

There was no answer, but then he expected none. The gods didn't speak to ones such as himself.

The best he could do was wait and hope.

Goto Chapter 41

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