Stopped for the night. Armbranch is distracting Sara so I can write. One piece of news. Another of the short stories I’ve been writing has been published.
If anyone wants to read it, it’s at The Grantville Gazette
Stopped for the night. Armbranch is distracting Sara so I can write. One piece of news. Another of the short stories I’ve been writing has been published.
If anyone wants to read it, it’s at The Grantville Gazette
On the move for the past two days. We’ve left the city but I have no idea where we are now. Some kind of forest. Can’t stay on long. Sara’s been keeping a close eye on us and this is the first chance I’ve got to write without her looking over my shoulder. I’m exhausted. But at least we’re on the road. Armbranch is more comfortable here, too. He says there’s nothing special about this forest although he seems hesitant at times when I ask him about certain plants or animal tracks we cross. Must go. Sara’s coming back.
Slept surprisingly well last night. Nervous, though. Sara won’t arrive for a while yet but I think I’ll spend some time with Maya before I go downstairs to say our farewells to Garigan. Not looking forward to that. Nor is Armbranch. I guess it’s just one of those things we have to do. Though he’s never admitted it, I’m 110% sure he wants to come with us. I’ll talk with Sara about it before we leave.
Our last night here. Maybe it’ll be our last night in Crater City. Who knows where we’ll be this time tomorrow. I don’t dare wish for too much. Just to be on the road again is enough for now. Not that I’m totally relaxed about things. I’m not. I’m elated, apprehensive, and fearful about leaving this place. Despite the grimness and smell, it’s safe. It’s easy to sleep well knowing Garigan is watching over us.
That might well change when Sara is in charge. I’m trying not to worry too much about it. But I’d be more comfortable about this one sided ‘alliance’ we’re in if we met some higher members of the Cadavat. Can’t say I trust them right now. Trust or not, we’ve got little other choice but play it their way.
Passed some time today online with the others discussing a strategy for Ana to enter the tunnel. O’Heir thinks it might be possible to distract the wind sentry in some way. Electronic noise, perhaps. Or maybe we could gather up something else to slow it up. Some toys might work. Robots. Electronic cars. That kind of thing. In theory anything that moved might keep it occupied for a few precious seconds. Armbranch isn’t sure. When he mentioned the sentry might only react to ‘living’ things, Justin suggested we send some animals down the tunnel. Rats might work, he said.
It’s a good idea. But risky, too. If the wind sentry never encountered rats before it might trigger all manner of unforeseen reactions. Besides, what might happen if the rats penetrated The Parawerthan? I haven’t seen a single one in all my travels. Who knows what chaos they’d cause if they roamed loose and started to breed. No. For now I think we keep things as stable as possible. A few toys might be a fun idea. But we’ll leave it at that. When O’Heir entered the tunnel the last time he had a bit of notice before the sentry arrived. If they keep on their toes now they’ll be okay.
And if things go right this end, perhaps the next time they’ll be going in there after Ana’s visit will be to bring Maya out. And me, of course.
Time to get some rest now. Doubt if I’ll sleep, but I’ve got to try anyway. Garigan stayed away most of the afternoon. I heard him wandering about downstairs, though. At times it sounded like he was mumbling to himself. Poor Garigan. Despite that tough exterior, I think a gentler character is just longing to get out.
His name will proudly go into my notebook beside all the others who’ve helped us. I think I’ll miss him.
Ana’s finally decided she wants to enter the tunnel to see her sister. I don’t know what I think about it. On one hand it’s risky. Though O’Heir (and probably Justin) will accompany her, there’s always a chance something might go wrong. On the other hand, though, I think it could be great for Maya to hear a friendly voice up close.
Who knows what it might trigger?
Either way, there’s not much I can do except give Ana my blessing. She’s a big girl. She knows the risks and I guess it will probably help her to understand this whole situation better. I just hope she’s not going in there to secretly say goodbye.
Garigan has grown more sombre here and I’m beginning to dread bidding him farewell. As that crazy countdown continues in my head, I’m becoming more and more convinced he wants to come with us. The way he wanders about the house reminds me at times of an old sailor wandering an empty dockside.
He’s a fascinating character. I’d love to know more about his background, about the things he’s seen, the places he’s been, and things he’s done. In fact, I’m sure that if I managed to get him to open up at all about his past he’d sit from now until Christmas telling us stories.
Maybe I should mention his behaviour to Sara. Maybe he could accompany us. Neither Armbranch nor I would mind. We’d welcome his company. At least we know where we stand with him and that’s a lot more than we can say for the rest of the Cadavat.
I’ve asked Ana to hold off for a few days before entering the tunnel. I want to wait until we’re out of this place and on the road before she goes down there. Right now it’s all I can do to think of anything else but Sunday.
Things were quiet here again today. But there’s a noticeable sense of expectation about Garigan now. He spent some time asking me about where we thought our destination was. It struck me as odd because I assumed he already knew. I’m beginning to wonder if I was wrong about him. Perhaps he’s not tired of watching over us and eager to get back to his family. Perhaps it’s the opposite. Maybe he’s fed up because he’s not coming with us.
He repeated some of the cloaking spells today. It was fun, but it didn’t have the same sparkle as the first time. Garigan seemed somehow detached from his work, like he was just playing out the end of some long, intense game. A message arrived from Sara half an hour ago. She’ll be picking us up late Sunday afternoon. Once again I’m faced with the prospect of bidding farewell to a helping hand. I’m getting tired of it. The farewells, I mean. As for leaving here, well, I’ll be out that door quicker than a laser light.
Time to check up on Maya now and tell her we’re hopefully on the last leg of our journey. We might be saying many goodbyes in this place. But with luck I’ll soon be saying hello to her face to face.
Armbranch is recovering slower than I’d expected. Though the skin tissue had healed, a type of scar was still visible this morning. I hope it’s not a sign that the trials of our journey have weakened him. When I blew off his arm all those months ago the entire limb grew back within days without any scars.
At least he could laugh today about yesterday’s event. He was so sour last night I didn’t dare bring up the subject this morning until he asked me if I’d heard anything strange during the night. I had. A cry coming from his room. I said nothing about it. I figure he was having a nightmare and there wasn’t much point in rekindling that nightmare in case it upset him. Things are quiet here for now. I want it to stay that way.
Things are quiet enough back home, too. According to O’Heir, Daidogan is spending much of her time searching for the shadow. Not around the house. Farther away. She’s checking out the remotest spots around the area, parking up beside lakes or in woods and just sitting there hoping to pick up some clue as to its whereabouts. He suspects she’s not entirely sure what she’ll do if she finds it. Right now, he’s just happy she helping instead of hindering us. I’m happy, too. Despite her faults, I always felt she could be an asset. And she will. Before this is over I’m sure she’ll earn the right to be called Mrs Daidogan again.
Apparently Justin is keeping busy as well, in a different, happier way. O’Heir says he won’t let Ana out of his sight and insists on bringing her sightseeing for a few hours each day. Just to get her out of the house and keep her mind off things, he claims. But I know my brother well. It’s obvious what he’s up to. He’s said nothing to me about it. But I know. Whenever he’s this silent about something I always know something’s up.
Nothing much happened here today. Garigan skipped the Lavun demonstrations, said it could possibly interfere with Armbranch’s recovery. Instead, he spent the afternoon lecturing us again about the consequences of misusing the magic. Blah blah blah. At least it was better than language class. Inexplicably, he also spent half an hour lecturing on a farming method he hoped to learn when he bought his first plot of land. It involved planting a tuber that grew as big as a honeydew melon and was used as some type of fuel in high altitude areas. Under different circumstance it would have been fascinating to hear about. Here, though, it was like hearing about the weather.
Deep down I suspect he was letting us know what he’d really prefer to be doing. All I can hope for is that the Cadavat are paying him enough so maybe he can have his farm someday.
Some major drama here this morning. Well, I guess it was all quite comical in a desperately tragic sort of way. Shortly after breakfast Armbranch announced that he needed to get out for a while. To ‘stretch his limbs’, as he put it. Even had I been able to talk him out of it, I wouldn’t have bothered. I understood perfectly. And when he climbed out through the window and dropped to the ground I felt like a part of me was free of this place, too.
He wasn’t gone long. About ten minutes later I heard a wild commotion down the street. When I looked out I saw Armbranch hobbling towards the house with what appeared to be a cat attached to his leg. It wasn’t a cat. When they got closer I saw it was the spy-scenting animal Garigan had released the other day. It had a hold of Armbranch’s leg with its teeth and it wouldn’t let go no matter how he swatted and cursed at it.
Worse still, when he climbed back into the room he brought the thing with him. It still wouldn’t let go. And I certainly wasn’t going near it. Somehow it was able to hiss and spit in the most ferocious way without loosening its grip on my friend. As tragic as it was, I couldn’t help admiring Armbranch’s patience. He could have killed this thing with a single blow, but all he did was to gently try and pry it away. Useless. It simply dug its teeth deeper and made him wince.
I still didn’t go near it, though. I opened the door and shouted for Garigan. The thing didn’t calm down until Garigan ran up the stairs. And though his face turned red with anger, I’d swear I saw him smile the moment he saw what was happening. The creature scuttled across the floor when it saw him, leaving Armbranch lying on a cot nursing his leg with both hands. Some sap was leaking down his leg and I could see where its teeth had sliced away some of that bark skin.
I’m more worried about infection than how quickly he’ll recover. Judging by past injuries, I figure he’ll have healed by morning. And Garigan assured us that the creature carried nothing that might harm him internally. After releasing the creature back outside, he returned to our room. He was both angry and confused. Angry because Armbranch had gone outside. Confused because the creature had attacked him. It wasn’t supposed to do that, he said. It was supposed to keep a low profile.
Instead of analysing it any further he suggested we put it behind us and just get on with things.
Armbranch told me later what had happened. He’d been bored and tried to sneak up on the thing when he spotted it hiding behind a wall a few hundred yards down the street. Bad idea. Okay, so he might be an expert tracker in the woods. But he’s got a lot to learn about city life. He figured the thing was waiting for him long before he got near it.
Serves him right.
After that, Garigan decided to postpone any lessons for today so Armbranch could recover. And I took a certain morbid delight in logging on and telling Maya all about it.
Had the creature bitten me, I doubt Armbranch would have shown much sympathy.
Stayed inside today. Garigan kept us busy most of the day going over language practice we’d covered many times already. But the passion was gone from his words. He was simply killing time, although he wouldn’t admit it when I asked. All he said was that we needed to be ready for the weekend. That’s when Sara would come to collect us. Until then we have to stay inside.
So we’re being passed on again. Hell. I’m starting to feel like some kind of weapon, a torch being passed on from hand to hand that will be used to light some final, sacred fire. Not that I mind. I don’t. I’ll only be too happy to light the flames around Gerridian’s feet. And if I get burned in the process, well . . .
Even if it does mean more endless days in this house, I’m happy enough to hear we’ll soon be on our way. At least we have a date to get moving. And it seems oddly symbolic that he told us this on the day Bin Laden got his cummupance. Yes. Symbolic and hopeful. I hope things go as well with our hunt for Gerridian. I also hope there won’t be any further delays. I discussed this with Armbranch earlier and he agrees that if Sara tries to stall us further, we’ll slip away and go it alone.
At least Garigan is going to repeat the magic training over the next few days. I wonder if he’ll part with his Lavun when we leave. I suspect he might. If not, why would he bother training us at all.
Left the house again today. This time we spent a full afternoon outside. Garigan took us through a maze of back streets until we arrived at the foothills of the mountain where a trail led upwards. I thought it uncharacteristic of him to expose us so openly like that. But I guess he had good reason to be confident. I also think he might have cracked up just slightly. Though the trail meandered much farther up the mountainside, we stopped at a point where we could just about see the fields and forests stretching off beyond the city. He kept staring west, towards a range of hills. I didn’t ask, but I suspect that’s where his family lives.
The bulk of the city lies within a great crater. In many places, though, the houses and buildings spill over the rim and scatter into suburbs. It was hard to see anything clearly because I hadn’t brought my binoculars. I was a bit annoyed at Garigan about that, for not telling us where we were going. But what I saw was more than enough to sate my curiosity.
Every building, every house, home, warehouse, and shed in Crater City has a domed roof. It was like looking at a great clutch of eggs, some white, some black, but most brown. Garigan told me they were designed that way for storm protection. The streets, too, had been constructed to slow and confuse any wind that might drop. Not a single road or lane ran straight for any more than ten of fifteen yards. The streets twisted and turned so much between the buildings it was dizzying to follow them.
We saw markets, parks, some open spaces, too; but nothing big enough for a storm to pause and catch its breath. Off to the north was a cluster of larger domes where the Borkon Council resided. This was the only place we actually saw a tower. It was small and thin, but it rose at least five hundred feet into the air. It was manned twenty-four hours a day, Garigan told us. Not as a watchtower. It was a communication centre. He didn’t elaborate. I guess he didn’t know.
I was mildly disappointed that we didn’t get a good look at what was built on top of the mountain. A few hundred metres from where we stopped, an overhang sprouted outwards and it was impossible to see past it.
I was grateful, though, for what we did see. Garigan smiled when I told him this later. There was something in his smile, some hint of sadness, that told me we wouldn’t be going up there again.
Can’t help thinking about all that storm protection. Can’t help thinking that if the Black turned up it might flatten the place as easily as an anthill.
Battery ran down yesterday and made me feel extremely cut off. And uneasy. I hadn’t been monitoring the power meter and was in the middle of an email to Justin when it died. It was ten last night before I could finish the mail. He hadn’t got spooked, said he’d figured something like that had happened.
I got spooked, though. When the battery just died like that my first thought was that the laptop was broken. I still tremble when I think about it. That laptop is more than my umbilical to reality. In an odd sort of way it’s become my friend. If I lost it, well, probably best not to think about it for now. I just need to be more careful in future.
And at least it gave me the excuse to finally convince Garigan we needed to get out of here, breathe fresh air and feel sunlight on our faces again. There’s a staleness in this house, a tinge to the air like someone or something died in here once and remnants of their death stink still lurk within the floorboards and roof beams. Garigan argued against going outside, but not too strongly. He knew we needed it. He probably needed it, too. He looks older by the day, like the strain of being away from his family is tugging hard and he doesn’t want to be away from them much longer.
Don’t blame him. No. I know exactly how he feels. I’ve aged, too. And not from any hardship. From loss. It’s so very, very hard to know someone you love is so close yet so impossibly distant at the same time.
We didn’t go far yesterday. He took us around a few side streets. All the warehouses we passed were shuttered up. I was glad. I just wasn’t in the mood for any more jaw dropping sights.
O’Heir met the reporter last night. He took Ana along with him, not for any support, but to add an exotic touch to the meeting. She’s as smart as I thought. She even offered to flirt with the reporter if that might help distract him. Everyone laughed at that. Well, everyone except Justin. O’Heir told me later that my brother tried hard to laugh but turned red instead.
O’Heir fed the reporter some information about a suspected fuel smuggling operation up close to the border with Northern Ireland. Though it was old information, and the smuggling operation had probably moved on by now, I sensed O’Heir wasn’t happy about passing it over. He doesn’t complain often. But when he told me he felt like a traitor to his uniform, I felt his pain. And what could I say? Nothing. Directly and indirectly this place is changing all of us. Corrupting us, I guess you could say.
For now we’ll just have to ride it out.
Sara arrived last night and finally admitted that she’s been getting reports of the Basilod’s progress for several months now. I was angry when I heard that. And I didn’t hold back. I told her that if the Cadavat wanted our co-operation they needed to be straight up with us. About everything. When she tried to explain it away with some nonsense on how they didn’t want to upset our ‘acclimatisation’ to Borkon, Armbranch cut her short and told her if they wanted our help we all needed to work together as a team. If they didn’t trust us, we’d go it alone.
She didn’t like that –especially from him. But she grudgingly agreed we were right. She told us their scouts had lost track of the Basilod several weeks ago. They had a rough idea of where it was, though. It disappeared deep in the eastern wastelands. That’s where we’d be heading soon.
How soon, she didn’t say. And I think she was being honest with us when she said that that decision was for others to make. I also think she was being honest when she said the Cadavat thought the beast was back with its master and that they couldn’t guarantee we’d find any trace of it even if we found Gerridian. I took that to mean that Gerridian mightn’t want such a thing to exist. After all, it did change after being trapped in the tunnel. He might just as well decide it was a threat and kill it.
I tried not to think about that particular scenario. It hasn’t happened yet. Last time I checked (about an hour ago) Maya was still alive.
If I didn’t know him better, I’d swear Armbranch had been reading my mind when he laid into Sara earlier. Either that, or he guessed I was about to say something about teamwork. I was glad of his intervention. It was so spontaneous it sent a clear message to Sara about how tight a team could be.
She acknowledged this later by saying she was impressed by our loyalty to each other. Coming from her it was quite a compliment.
Spent a wonderfully relaxing day yesterday. In fact I can’t remember the last time I felt so good. Not even the Yellow Eyes’ celebration parties or Captain’s grog came close to the natural high I managed to induce. At least I hope it was natural. Either that or Garigan put something in our food.
I guess it was natural, though. It reminded me of bright summer days when Maya and I would spend afternoons on Skerries beach or drive into the Dublin mountains. Free. That’s what it felt like. For one short day I actually felt free even though Garigan insisted he couldn’t let us go outside.
Even Armbranch caught my mood after a while. When I played the Grizzly Bears’ Yellow House album his eyes glazed over with something that might have been tears.
Reality, however, wasn’t far away. I logged on this morning to read a mail from O’Heir telling me the reporter called him yesterday. He wants a story. Not strictly about ‘strange goings on’ in Cavan. No. He wants something interesting from O’Heir, something he can use from the police files. It’s pure blackmail of course. And it troubles O’Heir. True, he’s got plenty of stories he could pass on. Mainly harmless stuff. It’s the ‘passing them on’ part that bothers him. Being blackmailed by a reporter isn’t a good position for a cop to be in. Ever. And once he passes the first titbit on, he’ll leave himself more vulnerable.
But he’ll do it. He’ll buy us the time even though it sickens me to know he’s going against everything he believes in to do it.
Garigan must have sensed we’re getting fed up cooped up in here. He spent the afternoon with us. No teacher pupil relationship this time. It felt more like the times we’d spent in the tavern. Good times. Peer to peer. That’s how he treated us. He even entertained us with some ‘vanishing’ tricks although I suspect it was sleight of hand instead of magic he was practicing.
He told us Sara is coming tomorrow with some news. Can’t wait. The only news I want to hear now is when we’re getting out of here.
Another long day of waiting. Yet, instead of getting annoyed sitting around, I’ve decided to try and enjoy it, rest up, relax, chat with Armbranch and surf the Net. It worked. I did manage to block out all the tomorrows and focus on the ‘here and now’ for a while. Armbranch seemed less tense, too. Deep down I guess my moods affect him in some way although he’s never commented on it. Only natural I suppose.
So today I was busy worrying about nothing. I didn’t check my mail. Nor did I log on to any news sites or ruminate on past events. I checked on Maya once. But that was only to say a quick hello and let her know my plans for today.
Time to log off. I shouldn’t even be worrying about the blog. Can’t help it, though. I need to write something in case the guys at home get worried. Now it’s time for some music. Relaxing music. Mumford and Sons first. Then maybe some Grizzly Bears. I’ll let Armbranch listen, too.
Should be interesting to hear what he thinks about them.
Moved again today. A few hours before dawn a messenger came and gave Garigan a sealed envelope and a sack. He drew out a sheet of blank, grey paper. Or at least it looked blank to my eyes. Garigan examined the sheet as if he were reading a letter. Shortly after he burned it, we were on the move. Garigan kept busy as we walked. He stopped several times and laid out false trail spells and at one point he released some kind of creature from the sack that followed about fifty yards behind us. A watcher, he said, trained to pick up the scent of any Borkon spies.
I didn’t even bother asking how that worked. Pointless. I didn’t want to overload my brain with any more craziness. Not yet anyway. Maybe I’ll ask Garigan about it at some point. All I saw of the creature were its tiny yellow eyes. It’s still out there. Garigan says it will stay out patrolling the area until we move again
I got the impression that he was pissed off the Cadavat hadn’t provided one of these creatures before now. It would have saved a lot of trouble.
It took about an hour to get to our new hideout. We’re closer to the mountain now. Even before the first rays of dawn peeped over the horizon, we could see it; it’s mass blocked out the stars and making it look like a great doorway. I thought I saw some pinpricks of lights up there. Couldn’t be sure. It feels good to be closer to it. Safer. It’s almost as if it’s shadow can offer us some added protection from unwanted eyes.
This place is more comfortable than our first hideout. We’ve got our own rooms again and we’re sleeping upstairs. It feels better that way. I’d never felt comfortable in a basement because there were too few escape routes. At least here there’s always the window. Not that the view is anything to write home about. A back alley, that’s all. And the windows on all the houses on the far side of the alley are all boarded up. Garigan told us that it was once a fashionable area. Now the city has expanded beyond the actual crater, the ‘fashionable’ people prefer to live in more secure areas.
The building are mostly warehouses and the smell of some kind of spice is thick on the air.
It’s getting unbearably stuffy in the tavern. We’re all stuck in one small room. There are only two beds and we’re forced to sleep in shifts. Even Garigan is growing impatient. He rarely goes out. Instead he seems to be waiting for instructions and I can tell he’s uneasy about losing control of the situation. True, he keeps up a good face. Behind the smiles, though, he’s worried. He hinted as much last night. This delay is costing us time, he said, and he doesn’t like being away from his family for too long.
I guess he’s on some kind of contract to train us, and that the contract might run over it’s due date. Can’t blame him for being anxious about his loved ones. I understand perfectly.
It’s also unsettling that the Cadavat don’t have a smoother backup plan than hiding us in a place like this. Though Garigan insists we’re perfectly safe, I’m constantly on edge. It’s the noise coming from the tavern. It always seems to be full and the constant hum of conversation, singing, and drunken bawling coming through the walls makes my mind alternate between wanting to scream and wanting to go out there and join them.
Garigan cut me with a look when I mentioned ordering in a few beers. He’s entertaining us by telling us stories. One of the craziest was about an apprentice magician who experimented with some Lavun. It happened right here in Crater City. The boy tried a cloaking spell to turn him invisible. It backfired. He got locked into a spell that made him terribly visible to everyone. Worse still, nobody could help unlock him. He remained trapped within it somewhere between this world and the next. He’s still there, still wandering. Occasionally rumours sweep the city that he’s been spotted. Garigan doubts them. He said that Ghost Boy (as he’s been nicknamed) left the city centuries ago. He’s still out there, still wandering the wastelands in the east to seek a spell to bring him home again.
I don’t know how true the story was. One thing’s for sure. Garigan didn’t tell us it for entertainment value alone. No. It was also a warning. Lavun is dangerous. Very, very dangerous.
It’s Easter Sunday. I’d always get Maya a nice egg on Easter Sunday. Nothing fancy. A Smarties egg was all she ever wanted and we’d always eat it in the morning before getting out of bed. Sometimes we’d get a second one, too, in the afternoon. It was never the same, though. That little Easter Sunday morning ritual was so simple yet so very priceless. And I’m so grateful for the memories. When it gets so dark in here I can barely think, those are the memories I draw strength from.
She’ll get her Smarties egg this year. Might be late, but she’ll get it.
Still holed up in the tavern. Though it might be boring here, it’s certainly not boring at home. Ana took the news of her sister’s ‘condition’ really, really well. She didn’t react much when they broke the news to her at the hotel. Nor did she say much on the drive up to Cavan after lunch. I think the enormity of the situation didn’t hit home until they arrived at Singleton and they showed her the web cam and brought her beneath the house. Even then she stayed strong. Okay, so O’Heir said she shed a few tears and asked to be alone for a while when they emerged from the basement. But that was it. Who could blame her? Nobody. It might be one thing hearing a loved one’s died. Hearing that they were neither alive nor dead is something completely different. Something unique.
I held an email conference with her last night that ran into the early hours. I guess my attempts to explain my current situation worked because she agreed the rest of her family weren’t ready to hear about this yet. If everything went right, she said, they might never have to hear about it. And the way she kept inquiring about my position gave me a fresh burst of confidence. I’ve always liked Ana, and I was grateful she didn’t even hint that any of this was my fault. She knows it is, of course. She’d be a fool if she didn’t. And she’s certainly no fool. She’s agreed to help us in any way she can. She even suggested that at some point it might be an idea if she entered the outer tunnel and talked with her sister –if only for a minute or so.
Brave girl. Even when I explained about the ‘wind sentry’ she was unperturbed. If only to see some reaction on Maya’s face –a tiny smile or flicker of an eyelid– it could be worth it. Who knows what a friendly voice might stimulate? When I mentioned it to O’Heir later, he agreed. He offered to accompany her if needed, just to keep an eye out. We’ll see. They’ve left the final decision to me, and I can’t see how I have the right to stop her. But not yet. Not until she’s fully adjusted to the situation.
They had another visitor, too, last night. The shadow. Daidogan said it turned up shortly after Ana was shown the inner tunnel. It didn’t stay long. In fact it didn’t even enter the house this time. It stayed out close to the mill house and watched for a while.
We suspect this visit wasn’t coincidental.
Did it sense Ana’s presence? Did it know she had some connection to Maya?
It’s a fascinating, frightening thought. And, somehow, if it’s true, I can’t help wondering if we can use it to our advantage.
They haven’t told Ana about the shadow yet. After last night’s visit, though, we all agree she needs to be told this part of the situation soon.
Everything’s changed. We’re on the run and moving from house to house. Yesterday afternoon Garigan decided to bring us back to the tavern –for food only, no beer. But barely had we set foot inside the door when he wheeled around and shoved us back outside. We didn’t return to the warehouse. No. He led us along a maze of side streets until we arrived at a small chalet about half a mile away. He had the keys, but it wasn’t long before were on the move again. Our second stop brought us to a lodging house that sits in the constant shadow of the mountain.
There had been someone in the tavern, Garigan said. A spy. He didn’t see them, but their presence was thick on the air. A Borkon Council spy, he figured from their scent. I’ve no idea how he could sense them, but I wasn’t in the mood to argue. All I was concerned about was our belongings. I insisted we get them immediately. Garigan wouldn’t let us return to the warehouse. He said he’d have someone pick them up. He was as true as his word. We’re staying in the rear quarters of the lodging house and our belongings arrived late last night. Didn’t see who brought them. Nor did I care. I was just happy to get them back.
And it was damned bad timing. Ana’s arriving today and I was hoping to check in regularly with the others to monitor things. Being holed up in this place makes it all the trickier. We don’t have the same level of privacy. Well, I don’t care. I’m going to get in touch with the guys soon and I’m also planning to have a private email conversation with Ana later. Perhaps it’s time to demonstrate some of my magic to Garigan. I’m sure he’ll be impressed.
Not a very good Friday, I’m afraid.
If nothing else, at least we’ve finally got away from those damned fish sinking robes.
Spent some time discussing Ana’s imminent arrival with O’Heir and Justin. They’ll both pick her up at Dublin Airport. But instead of telling her about Maya on the drive to Cavan, we’ve agreed it might be better to stop somewhere, have lunch, and break the news to her slowly in a quiet, relaxed setting. I suggested a hotel outside Navan where Maya and I dined a few times. Mid afternoon might be the best time to stop. It will be quieter then.
I’ll admit I’m growing nervous about her visit. No matter how strong willed and smart she is, hearing about her sister will be a test. A real test. It’s one thing breaking the news of a death in the family to a loved one. It’s quite another thing telling them their sister is in a coma because some ‘beast’ from another dimension stole her life essence. I hope my current situation convinces her to stay quiet about the whole thing. I’m not sure, though. And if she decides to tell the rest of the family, or maybe go to the police, we’ve agreed not to stop her. We don’t have the right.
To be honest, I wouldn’t blame her if she cracked up. Even when I stop to think about what happened to Maya I have to sometimes take deep breaths to remind myself it’s true and not some ludicrous fantasy. Poor, poor Ana. Poor, poor everyone. If I hadn’t insisted on cranking up that machine last summer Ana would be coming to visit with a smile on her face and plans to see Ireland.
We went outside with Garigan again today. We stayed to the quieter, local streets and he demonstrated more of his spells to us. Concealment spells of a different sort. Using the phial he showed us how to spread a little energy in our wake to mask our tracks for up to half an hour depending on what terrain we were crossing. He also showed us how to confuse anyone following us by laying a false trail. Though we couldn’t actually see anything, he assured us that when he opened the phial and whispered a few words, the energy took our spoor and carried it off down a side street. Again, depending on the terrain, he said it could lay a false trail for up to half a mile. It wouldn’t fool a professional tracker, but it was enough to give us the edge if lesser mortals were pursuing us.
The last thing he showed us was easily the most impressive, the thing he said could confuse professional trackers and maybe even average level magicians. He created a misty wall between himself and us. When I tried to pass through it I always seemed to end up on the wrong side. It was no illusion. Somehow, as I stepped through it, the wall shifted and always kept Garigan away from us. To be used only in emergencies, he said, to confuse an enemy that got too close.
He let both of us hold the phial today. Felt strangely good. I can’t help wondering if he’s going to give it to us when we leave.
Couldn’t sleep much last night. Depressed. I don’t know why, but I kept thinking about the Golden Eyes and the time we spent with them. Perhaps it’s the darkness of this room that reminds of being under the mountains. Or maybe it’s the security I felt while there, or simply their charmingly, innocent ways.
Whatever the reason, I miss them. A lot. I’d much rather have Lailia by my side instead of any member of the Cadavat, although, if it came to a fight, Sara might have a stronger hand than our old friend. I wonder what Lailia and Ultar are doing right now? Is the Master of Crypts still bugging everyone? Is Harander still keeping watch from his stony tower? Are all those warriors still in training for the day they’ll rise out of there to reclaim what they lost?
And who lives in those lands now? Tinottes? I hope not. I don’t know much about these people, but I’d hate to see the wrath of the Golden Eyes fall upon them.
At times last night when I sat there in the dark it was easy to imagine being back there, sitting in our cavern, and happy to let the strength of a full mountain shield us from any danger. It’s mostly silent here at night. Those sniffing creatures haven’t returned and the only sounds after nightfall are the occasional passing cart or burst of drunken laughter.
At one point I grew so lonely I took out Lailia’s pen and ink and almost wrote her a letter. How crazy? Perhaps that fever hasn’t fully gone yet. Perhaps it’s trying to harm me in some other, psychological way. Judging by the way Armbranch spoke and wrote about it, the fever had a life of its own. I tried not to think too much about that last night. Impossible. Those kinds of thoughts always cling to me when I sit alone in the dark. I felt so down I didn’t have the heart to log on and join Maya in case, somehow, my mood affected her.
Lunacy, I know. But I’d rather not risk it anyway.
We were left on our own today. Garigan had business to arrange elsewhere, and he still hasn’t returned. On a more positive note the food he left us was delicious. It was a type of stew and I haven’t tasted anything as good since disembarking from the Maritan.
There’s nothing like a good stew to cheer me up.
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