Adair was vaguely aware of being dragged across a smooth floor. He felt the sensation of his legs, from the knees down, sliding on a hard surface. He could hear the footsteps of the men that were on either side of him, half carrying him by the shoulders of his tunic. The fabric was cutting into his skin. There was an elapsed period of time between this realization and when he regained his vision. As soon as he opened his eyes, the sight of his own reflection in the marble, four inches away from his nose, caused a shooting pain in his head. He quickly shut his eyes, but his temples pounded, making it difficult to concentrate on anything but the pain. He tried not to make any sound or movement as he winced. The pain gradually lessened into a dull ache, emanating from the base of his skull, spreading down his neck and into his shoulders. He decided to risk opening his eyes again and found his vision to be blurry. Even through the blur, the sight of the intricate black marble veined with silver streaks passing beneath him was too much. His head began to spin. He shut his eyes and darkness returned, a welcome retreat for his overwhelmed vision.
“Is this the one?” The voice seemed loud in the surrounding silence. The two men had stopped dragging him and were talking with a third man. There was a pause before the reply, probably for some gesture that Adair couldn’t see.
“He made it close to the outer wall. We almost didn’t know he was there until it was too late.” Adair was listening intently for any information he could glean from this. He could feel a slight tug on his right shoulder and his captor continued. “He started to run through the reef, but we got him.” There was another pause and Adair wished he could watch this conversation from somewhere other than where he was now. There was much to learn, even from people’s body language.
“Take him to the end, last cell on the left,” said the third man.
Good, only one guard so far. He took note of this as a matter of habit, knowing that any information of his surroundings would be useful at some point.
Without another word, the two soldiers continued to drag Adair down the hall. He knew that they were going to put him in a cell, probably to be questioned. There was no other reason to keep him alive. But then my chance to escape is gone. The thought of trying to get away from these two soldiers and the guard they just passed made Adair feel queasy. He knew under normal circumstances that these two men would be no match for him, but the third man, coupled with the probability of blacking out from the exertion, made the situation very dangerous. But he had no other options. As these thoughts were sluggishly making their way through his head, he felt the soldiers drag him around a sharp corner, turning to the left. Once out of site from the guard behind them, Adair seized the opportunity.
The men were carrying swords at their right sides; the scabbard of the man on the left had been knocking into his arm the whole time. He listened to their steps to get the timing and suddenly reached both arms around the back of the soldiers’ legs.
The two men tripped over their own feet, sprawling onto the floor in front of them and losing their grip on their prisoner.
Adair pulled his feet underneath him and pounced on the back of the soldier to his right, pinning him to the ground. He reached down to the man’s waist and grabbed the hilt of his sword, attempting to rip it from the scabbard. It stuck at first, the awkward angle not allowing it to come free.
The soldier on the left was quicker than Adair had anticipated, already gaining his footing and pulling his own sword free.
Adair somersaulted forward over the soldier beneath him while keeping his grip on the sword. It came free and Adair rolled to his feet on the other side with the sword in his hand.
The other soldier wasted no time and attacked immediately. Lunging forward, he swung his sword at gut level with a backhanded slash.
Adair back-stepped the passing blade and thrust his sword into the man’s chest.
The soldier dropped immediately to his knees.
Adair wrenched the sword out, spinning around to find the other man on his hands and knees. Before he could get to his feet, Adair drove his sword between the man’s shoulder blades and the soldier collapsed on the floor.
Adair’s head was spinning, but he gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the growing nausea. Darting back to the corner of the hallway, he laid in wait for the guard who was sure to have heard all the commotion.
Mere seconds elapsed before the guard came running around the corner.
Adair swung his sword in a level arc and caught the soldier in the face, stopping his upper body momentum while his legs continued forward and swung out from underneath him.
Adair dragged the bodies into one of the nearby cells and piled two of them in the corner. He stripped off the clothes of the third man and changed into them, using his own to wipe up the mess in the hallway. His head was still spinning a little, but he was feeling better with every breath. The guard had been armed with a spear, but Adair decided to keep his newly acquired sword instead, to complete his disguise. The attire of these soldiers was much different from his own military dress, with leather sandals that crisscrossed up his lower leg, coming almost to his knee. The guard’s tunic had long sleeves and only reached to Adair’s waist, where a pair of calf-long trousers completed the uniform. The sword was similar to standard Orudan issue, only a few inches longer and slightly narrower.
Who are these people? Everything about them seemed relatively normal; nothing was foreign or outlandish except their secretive presence on the ocean. They weren’t part of any group that he knew of, but their skin and features suggested they were from this part of the world. Does the Emperor know about them? Just as the thought came to him, he dismissed it. The Empire was the most advanced military in the world and they owed that to two reasons—organization and communication. If the Emperor had any operations so near to Bastul, or even knew of something, Adair would be the first one to know. For the meantime, Adair brushed the thoughts aside and concentrated on finding a way out of this place.
Disguised as one of the enemy, Adair strode confidently down the hallway, turning to the right and heading in the direction from which he had been dragged. As he walked, he tried to take note of any details that might later prove useful. Flames burned in sconces at eye-level along both walls, dimly lighting the hallway. The floor was made of a smooth black marble, highly polished, and it reflected what light the torches cast. The walls were made of a more ordinary stone, duller than the floor, but still black. Adair couldn’t find any seams where the stones were joined together. It was as if the whole hallway had been carved out of one giant rock.
He found the place where the guard had stood only a moment ago, a low archway at the end of the hall that opened into a wider and taller area with doorways on the left and right. Another low archway was set into the wall on the opposite side, making this chamber a four-way junction. Adair tried to remember from which direction he had been dragged, but couldn’t recall turning around any corners. Then again, he had only just regained consciousness at this point. He decided to go with his instinct and chose the archway across the chamber. It was a hallway, exactly like the one he just left. As he walked, it occurred to him that he must be somewhere inside the walled structure he saw on the ocean.
At the end of the hall was a set of stairs leading up. He climbed carefully with one hand on the hilt of his sword, ready for someone to appear at any moment. The stairs spiraled in a tight radius and after a few minutes, he began to wonder how far the steps would go. With each passing second, his sense of direction was more and more confounded. He thought this place to be a building inside the wall, but it was far too large. With all of the stairs he had climbed, this building would have reached high into the air, clearly visible above the wall that surrounded this place. When he was out on the ocean, just before turning into the reef, he was able to get a good look at the outer wall. Despite its camouflaging properties, he estimated it to be only forty or fifty feet tall, and he was positive that he had already climbed much higher than that.
He trudged on for several more minutes before hearing a change in the sound of the stairwell. His footsteps were starting to echo and he could tell that there was a larger area up above. He moved cautiously up the spiraled stairs as the passage widened, ending at a doorway. It was a low arch without a door just like all the others he had seen, but beyond the doorway was what interested him.
Though his view was limited, he could see what appeared to be a cavern, a hundred feet long with a low ceiling. He could also make out row upon row of barrels and crates lining the left side. A sharp clanking noise drew his attention to the right, but he had to move a few steps forward to get a better view. There, in the soft orange glow of a furnace, were a handful of blacksmiths pounding red hot metal with hammers. One of the men plunged the metal into a bucket and a hiss of steam rose above his head. He tossed the metal into a box set on wheels and another man pushed the cart away. Adair moved closer to the archway and scanned the cavern. There were dozens of groups like the first one, all making what appeared to be weapons.
They’re building an arsenal!
Before he had a chance to dwell on the shocking discovery, his attention was drawn to something glittering on the far side of the cavern. It took him a little while to realize that it was reflected moonlight on the ocean, seen through an enormous doorway on the other side of the cavern. Just outside of the opening were several ships moored to a dock, but it was too dark to make out anything else.
Suddenly, the sound of voices came to him, much closer than the metalworkers. They were just outside of the doorway to the right, and they were approaching. Adair turned and fled down the stairs, struggling to keep from tripping as he skipped over several steps with each stride. He reached the bottom of the long, winding staircase in just a few minutes and stopped, trying to calm his heartbeat and listen for signs of pursuit. A moment later, the sound of unhurried footsteps drifted to him and it was apparent that the men were coming down the staircase. He had only an instant to think of what to do before they would reach the bottom. He glanced at the other doorways around him. The one straight ahead would lead him back to the jail cells. He wasn’t sure about the other two passages, but either one might be an escape route.
If I run, the men coming down the stairs will be alarmed by the disappearance of the guard. If I stay and pose as the guard, they might pass by and not notice. But in order to maintain secrecy in a place such as this, all of the soldiers would probably know each other well enough to recognize a stranger. They would never buy his impersonation. The footsteps in the stairwell were getting louder and time was running out. Adair chose the doorway across from him, running down the hall and turning the corner.
Along the left side of the hall were the barred cells where he hid the bodies of the soldiers. He ducked into the first one and hid in the corner where the shadows would conceal him. He hoped that the men wouldn’t even come down this passage. Perhaps they would take one of the other doors. But to his disappointment, he heard them coming. Now all he could do was wait for the men to pass by and sneak out of this passage when they were gone. By the sound of the footsteps, there are four or five of them. Much smarter to run and hide than fight.
A moment later Adair watched as four men passed by his cell without even a glance in his direction. He waited until they got farther down the hallway and then he slipped quietly out of the cell, turning back toward the staircase.
“Get back to your post!” one of the men yelled to him from behind.
Adair raised a hand in acknowledgment without turning and continued around the corner. He heard one of the men laugh and hoped that he wasn’t really alarmed. As Adair neared the guard post, two more soldiers appeared from the bottom of the stairwell in the opposite hallway, apparently following the same route as the first four. Adair immediately stopped in his tracks and stood at attention against the wall. If the soldiers were suspicious, they didn’t let on. Adair’s heart was racing as he prepared himself for conflict, which seemed only an arm’s reach away.
Then it happened.
A yell came from down the hallway where the first four soldiers had gone.
They found the bodies!
The second group of soldiers stopped walking and pulled their swords from their scabbards, looking at Adair with suspicion.
The first group came back around the corner.
Adair now had enemy soldiers in front and behind him, and two doorways for escape.
“Get him!” they yelled, pointing at Adair.
Adair sprang from his position and ran for the nearest door, entering a dark hallway with six men in pursuit. The hallway went on in a straight line for a short time before any other passages became visible. At the first sight of a doorway Adair risked a glance behind him to find that he had gained a considerable distance on his pursuers. He passed by the first door and dodged through the second one on the left and kept running. To his surprise, it was another hallway with a large doorway at the other end. As he ran he noticed that there were more passages on either side of this hallway as well. He quickly opted for one of the smaller doorways on the right, thinking that it would not be his first choice if he were chasing someone. Each doorway led to another passage with more choices. He kept running, trying to pick a random route to avoid being caught. After a few minutes, he stopped and tried to listen over his own heartbeat.
Silence. Have I lost them?
With at least a few calm minutes ahead of him, Adair considered his situation. He knew there was no hope of escaping this place by way of the cavern at the top of the stairs; there were too many people. He had to find another way. In a place like this, there has to be more than one!
Without the sounds of pursuit, he cautiously pressed on to locate another exit. He moved from the dark room that had been his hiding place and began walking tentatively down the hall. It was eerily silent and Adair drew his sword to be ready for any more surprises.
As time passed he found himself in a hall that appeared to be a main artery inside this maze of tunnels. It was at least thirty feet wide and the ceiling sixty-five feet high. Adair glanced down the length of the hall in both directions and noticed that it curved until it disappeared from sight. This was just the sort of thing he was looking for. If it was a main thoroughfare, it would likely lead to an exit. The only problem was the increased probability of meeting more soldiers along the way. But Adair decided to take his chances. He turned to the right and kept to the outside of the curve, which allowed him the best view of what was ahead.
The minutes passed without any change in the scenery. Adair had just begun to wonder if this hall would go on forever, when he noted a change in the air. The passage seemed cooler and the torches on the wall flickered more than before.
Fresh air. He scanned the walls and ceiling for proof of what he hoped for. Directly above him on the wall, only a few feet from the ceiling, was an opening. It was hard to make out at first with all the shadows cast by the torches. Adair’s heart sank when he became sure that this was where the air was coming from. It was more than forty feet above him and there was no way to climb to it on these slick walls. He would just have to find another way out.
He continued down the hall hearing nothing but his own footsteps. A minute later he noticed another hole in the wall to his left. It too was out of reach, but a little lower than the first. It was still too far above the ground to climb to, but there was a pattern developing, and Adair liked the look of it. He sheathed his sword, jogging down the passage a little quicker than before and found another opening in the wall just where he expected it to be. This one was only thirty feet off the ground.
Anticipation propelled him forward at a run, down the curving passage, watching one after another of these holes in the wall spiral closer and closer to his reach. Suddenly his excitement came to a halt. The hallway ended at an arched doorway like so many others he had seen in this labyrinth. He walked a short way into the smaller passage but there was no hole where he expected it to be. He backed up to the last opening he passed and found that it was about ten feet off the ground, maybe more. Adair couldn’t remember any time in his life when he needed to be able to jump this high and seriously doubted that he could.
He backed away from the opening and tried to get a better look at it. It appeared to be just a ventilation hole drilled into the side of the wall and seemed large enough for a man to fit through, but there was no telling where it led. As Adair tried to figure out how he was going to get up to the hole, a faint sound came to his ears. He turned his head to listen and could barely make out footsteps. He glanced left and right, but he couldn’t see anything in the hall. The way sound bounced off the walls in this passage made it difficult to tell from which direction the footsteps were coming.
He tried not to panic.
He looked to the opening and took a few steps back, trying to find the best position for the difficult jump. When it felt right, he lunged into motion, jumping as high as he could. When he reached the wall, his fingers slapped against the stone several inches below the hole. The rest of his body crashed into the wall before he slid down to the floor.
The hilt of the sword around his waist clanged loudly on the stone floor and he winced at the sharp noise.
The approaching footsteps were getting louder and now he could hear voices as well.
He didn’t have much time and needed to make a decision. He could either keep the sword—his only means of protection—and fight his way out, or he would have to get rid of it in order to reach the opening, which might not even be an escape. If he decided to fight, he might do well for a while, but he knew there was no way one man could survive against many trained soldiers.
His fingers quickly went to his belt and began to unfasten it. He took off the sword and scabbard and threw them to his right, as far down the hallway as he could. The belt landed on the stone floor with a clang and skidded to a stop. The sound of approaching footsteps quickened to a running pace and Adair judged the group to be five or more people. Hopefully the belt would lead them away, unless they were coming from that direction, in which case it would only serve to give away the fact that he was in the general vicinity.
Again Adair took a running start and jumped. This time his fingertips grasped the ledge of the opening and hung for a second, but he lost his grip and slid down the wall.
He backed up again and could see the lengthened shadows of running men along the wall, cast by the torches they were carrying. This is my last chance! He only had enough time for one more jump and then the soldiers would have him. He sprinted forward stepping into a crouch and sprang off of his left leg, extending it as far as possible while reaching up the wall with his right hand. The ledge came into reach and he grabbed as hard as he could. His fingertips tried to dig into the stone but his grip was fragile. Adair quickly swung his left hand up to the ledge and was able to get a solid grip with both hands and pulled his upper body over the ledge and into the opening. The round hole was just wide enough for his shoulders to pass through. He could see that it continued straight for about twenty feet where a soft light spilled in. Adair didn’t know what was on the other side, but at this point, he didn’t care. The cramped space wouldn’t allow for him to swing a leg up so he reached further into the hole to find another grip. There was nothing but smooth stone. Adair tried desperately to pull his lower body into the passage but his sweating palms couldn’t find traction.
“There he is,” yelled someone from the hallway below.
Adair couldn’t hold back the panic. He was defenseless with his lower body completely exposed. He wriggled from side to side while boosting his upper body on his elbows and slowly began to gain the leverage he needed. But it was all happening too slowly. With one more pull he managed to get his legs into the passage. At the same moment he felt something slam into his right foot followed quickly by the sound of metal glancing off the stone. By reflex he jerked his foot further into the tunnel, but it was too late. A searing pain spread through his foot and leg. He knew he was injured, but he kept crawling, trying to get free of his pursuers.
He reached out with one hand against the stone beneath him and pulled, while simultaneously pushing forward with his knees. He felt like a worm trapped inside a piece of fruit that was about to be consumed. As he approached the end of the tunnel, his surroundings became brighter and the air clearer. His head exited the passage into open air. Craning his neck to look above him, he could see stars shining brightly in the night sky overhead.
Turning to look down, he saw what looked like an enormous well. It was at least seventy-five feet across and had a spiraling staircase carved into the stone along the inside. He looked across and saw other ventilation shafts just like his own, drilled into the stone at regular intervals, eight feet above the stairs. Looking down to the stairs below, he knew that it would be a painful jump from this height, but an instant death if he overshot the stairs and slipped into the darkness below. The staircase had no railing, only steps that dropped off the edge into nothingness. His options were limited and he was in danger of death regardless of whether he went forward or backwards.
It was difficult and painful to turn himself around in the tight passage, but once he changed his direction, he was able to slide backwards out of the tunnel, letting his legs dangle while holding onto the ledge. As gravity began to pull his body out of the tunnel, he realized that his grip was compromised by the slick coating of blood coming from his foot. A feeling of panic surged within him as he realized the peril of his situation.
In a last second attempt to keep himself from falling over the side of the stairs, Adair pushed his feet out a few inches away from the wall and let go, leaning in toward the face of the stone as he fell. His feet hit the ground, sending a wave of pain from his right foot up into his leg. His position caused him to fall forward into the sheer face of the stone and roll down a few stairs before coming to a halt. His foot was throbbing intensely, but he tried to put it out of his mind until he was safe.
Even though the moon was not visible, its light illuminated the opposite side of the well. Adair stood in the shadowed half and looked up to the rim that was almost two hundred feet above. Knowing that the soldiers would inform everyone else of his whereabouts, it was only a matter of time before they closed in on him. He needed to get to the top of this chasm and out of sight as quickly as possible. He began to painfully limp up the spiraling stairs, hurrying almost to a run when he came to the illuminated side of the well.
It seemed like an eternity before he reached the top. Fortunately, the stairs ended in the shadows. Adair crouched down to keep his head from being visible above the rim, while crawling up the last few steps. He waited for a brief moment to listen for any movement nearby. When he was satisfied that it was safe, he peeked over the rim. What he saw amazed him.
He was perched atop a small island of stone that gently sloped fifty feet down to the ocean surface. Docks sprouted from the island like spokes from a wheel. Several hundred feet away from the shore of the island was the inside of the circular wall that surrounded this secluded place. The inside of the wall was made up of hundreds of covered ports. Some were empty and some contained ships. It was too dark to tell for sure, but Adair knew that if even half of the ports were filled, this place contained a fleet that would rival the Empire itself.
One area of the waterway between the wall and the island was teeming with ferries, offloading crates of goods from one of the ships and transporting them to the island. Adair looked back down the stairs and realized that all this time spent running down hallways and hiding from his captors, he had been beneath the ocean. Even as the realization came to him, he denied the possibility of it. Who could make such a place?
“Stop right there.”
Adair spun around to see two men standing on the opposite rim of the chasm. They both held torches and immediately separated, running around opposite sides of the well. Adair stood and ran up the last few steps, not wanting to get trapped inside the chasm. The stairs ended at a pathway which circled the rim. Other narrow footpaths radiated out from the main path to end at stairways heading down the outside of the hill. He took only a few steps before seeing another pair of men coming up the nearest set of stairs at a full run. Adair paused for a brief moment, unsure of whether he should fight past these men to escape, or run back down the stairs where immediate safety was available. He instinctively chose the latter and rushed back down the stairs into the well.
What have I done? Even through the unbearable pain shooting into his leg, Adair knew that he made the wrong decision. There was nowhere for him to go now but down. He might be able to keep ahead of them, but what would that gain him? They had him trapped now and he was finally starting to feel afraid of not making it out alive.
He ran down the winding staircase as fast as his injured foot would allow him, keeping to the inside of the treacherous steps. Suddenly, a torch landed on the stairs in front of him, sending a shower of sparks into the air before falling over the edge and disappearing into the darkness. Adair didn’t even pause to see how close they were or who had thrown the torch; his instinct for survival drove him downward.
Gradually the light of the moon disappeared altogether and Adair ran in complete darkness, dragging his hand along the rock face to maintain a sense of proximity to the edge. After what seemed like an hour, Adair noticed a dull orange glow coming from the center of the darkness below. It was just enough light to illuminate his surroundings. His breath was ragged and his right leg was nearly useless. He slowed his pace and looked up behind him. Far away he could see the bouncing torches of his pursuers. They must have slowed long ago, realizing that his capture was inevitable.
Adair pressed on and within minutes he reached the bottom of the staircase. It ended at a tunnel which led away into the side of the rock face. The tunnel was completely dark and Adair had to move by feel once again. After a slow hundred yards, the passage began to slope downward and veer to the right. The slope gradually steepened until Adair almost tripped down another set of stairs. It was a strange sensation to be underneath the ocean and he marveled at how much work must have gone into building this place, aside from the fact that it seemed physically impossible.
Slowly, the tunnel began to lighten with the same orange glow. His pace quickened in the soft light, as he no longer needed to feel his way through the passage. After several more minutes of descending the curving steps, the tunnel opened up into an enormous cavern, hundreds of yards wide and equally as tall. Torches burned along the wall, casting an eerie light throughout what looked like a gigantic temple to some unknown god.
Or gods, Adair thought as he noticed great stone statues, at least a hundred feet tall, lining the perimeter of the cavern. Each one was shaped almost like a man, but their features were stretched vertically, with great wings that extended to either side of the statue. The tips of the wings touched the tips of the next statue, so that the whole cavern was encircled by them. Adair continued out of the mouth of the tunnel and ran down the remaining steps, which were carved into the wall of the cavern like the chasm above him. When he reached the floor of the cavern, his feet crunched into pure sand, like the shores of Bastul.
He looked down to take in this unexpected sight and noticed the bloody mess of his right foot. The severed sole of his sandal dragged uselessly across the sand, held to his leg by a thin strip of twisted leather. His foot had gone numb. Across the cavern was a lake whose water was still and smooth as glass. At the center of the lake was a stone dais, thirty feet across and only inches above the level of the water. Narrow footbridges of stone extended from the dais on opposite sides, arching over the water and ending at the sandy perimeter of the lake.
On the other side of the cavern was a large arched doorway. It appeared to be the only other way out of this place. A quick look around told Adair that it would be quicker to head straight over the dais via the footbridge than it would be to skirt the lake. Once his goal was set, he quickened his pace to a run.
The sand slowed his progress and sapped his already depleted energy. By the time he made it to the start of the footbridge, his pursuers spilled out of the tunnel behind him and onto the staircase. Adair ran with all his might up the narrow bridge, trying to keep his footing on the polished stone. His lead on the soldiers had lessened considerably and he feared that he would lose this race. His only hope now was to make it through the archway at the other side of the cavern and hopefully find a narrow corridor where he could defend himself against one man at a time. Even then, they would eventually wear him down.
Slowing little by little with every painful step, he looked across the cavern at the archway and tried to fix his will on getting through that doorway. Just as he took his first step on the dais, the dark hole of the archway began to change. There was movement inside it and Adair suspected that he had failed. When row upon row of soldiers filed out of the archway, Adair felt all hope drain from his body, like the wind being taken from the sails of a boat.
He stopped running and unexpectedly lost his footing on the slick surface. His left foot shot out from underneath him and he landed painfully on his elbow before sliding to a stop. Knowing that the chase was over, he lay back on the stone and stared up at the ceiling.
It only made the situation worse when he saw stars overhead. The ceiling above him had a huge hole right through the middle of it. It took a second before he saw the spiraling stairs and recognized it as the chasm with which he was already acquainted. He could see freedom right above him, but there was no way to reach it. He lifted his head to get a view of his odds at the last moments of his life. Altogether, there were about fifty archers and foot soldiers surrounding the lake. It was over.
Adair looked around and realized he was sitting roughly in the center of the stone dais. Its surface was polished like marble, and seemed to glow with a silver light. Just beneath the surface, as if encased in ice, was a strange pattern of concentric circles like the rings of a tree that had been frozen, then shattered. He ran his hand over the smooth surface and marveled at its translucency. Even more strange was that it was perfectly clean. Adair ran his finger over the surface and rubbed it with his thumb. Not even a speck of dust.
It’s beautiful. It looked like an altar. I guess it’s a fitting place to die.
He struggled to his feet as the soldiers advanced up the bridges on either side of him. They were within shooting range now and it was only a matter of seconds before he would see death. His thoughts turned to his family. Maeryn, with her beautiful blonde hair and gorgeous smile. Kael, with that inquisitive look in his eyes. Tears began to stream down his face as he realized that he would never see them again in this life.
He looked back to the soldiers marching toward him and noticed that they looked wavy and distorted as if he was seeing them through poorly crafted glass. He rubbed the tears from his eyes and looked again, but his vision didn’t change. Adair looked down at his feet and saw his own reflection on the dais spiraling inward. He suddenly felt very heavy as if he had consumed too much wine. He looked up again at the soldiers and saw that they were retreating with looks of astonishment on their faces. Their images continued to distort and pull inward toward Adair as he felt the weight of the world pressing in on him. Suddenly, a burst of blue light flashed in his eyes, sending a jolt of pain through his head. It was the last thing he saw before he lost consciousness.
Copyright 2008-2010 by Jason Tesar
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