The arena was vast, and dimly lit by the rays of the dying sun reflecting as a velvet haze from...

posted 16 April 2002

The arena was vast, and dimly lit by the rays of the dying sun reflecting as a velvet haze from low clouds hanging in the dusky sky. Hundreds stood or sat there, thinly spaced across the arena, watching each other with a mixture of distrust and grudging respect. Many turned in the direction of the dias in the east, where Lady Deborah sat.

There Lord Seldolivaw knelt in the dry dust before the dias; Lady Deborah stood and smiled down at him, an eyebrow slightly arched in interrogation. "My lady," he said, "it has been too long since we last spoke." "Indeed, young Lord," she replied, "but what news do you bring for me?" "All is not well in the realm, my Lady. A tide grows against me, even in my own lands. A dark force acts against me. I plead for your assistance," he said. "Stand, Lord Seldolivaw," she said, "I will consider your request. Will you stay and discuss it further?"

Lord Seldolivaw stood. The dust which stained his closely-fit leggings fell away, and ran from between his shapely toes to the ground. A beam of translucent energy, the sky-blue colour of his garments, rose from the ground like a staff. Grasping it, the glow spread beneath his feet, and he rose slowly to her eye level, supported on a glowing disc of transluscence. "Would that I might. But my arrival here is for this purpose and this only, I must return immediately. You must know I would not wish it this way," he continued, and they both smiled as Seldolivaw cast a brief glance in the direction of William, "but perhaps this is for the best." Lady Deborah laughed a deliciously evil laugh. "Very well, young Lord, you may go. But we must remain in contact if the danger you speak of is true." "Be assured that it is, my lady. With your permission, I shall provide you with a link." Seldolivaw placed one palm to his forehead, and the glow on which he stood rose to shimmer around him for a moment, breaking into a network of fine blue lines which contracted around his head before disappearing into his skull. He removed his hand, and on his palm sat a brightly glowing sphere a few centimetres across. It was lime green, and though its edges were sharply defined, its substance seemed not: its form shifted and coiled within itself, as smoke trapped with a glass bead. He took it between two fingers, and the disc shifted to place him face to face with Lady Deborah. She bowed her head slightly, and he placed it upon her forehead. Small traceries of green light crawled out of the sphere to form a delicate webbing upon her forehead, which then sank into her supple skin, pulling the sphere down with them as if it were completely insubstantial. _Our thoughts are linked now. An unusual feeling, to say the least. We cannot discern which of these memories were originally ourselves. Such a useful gift we have, and yet we've never used it. Is such a change permanent? No, this change is not permanent, or we would know. Already it is breaking._ As the bond parted and they regained a sense of themselves, Lady Deborah breathed deeply. "My. I have never before been privilege to your gift, Lord Seldolivaw. It is a credit to your training that the link runs so deep."

"My training was haphazard at best," Seldolivaw sighed. "My link is not complete enough: even in its very depth you could maintain a sense of curiosity. You should not have had the sensation of new knowledge." "Ah, but I am rather special in that respect. I did think of it as our gift, young Lord. And I have never been under any illusion as to where my talents lie before. Your gift is indeed considerable. How do we reestablish contact?" "The nature of the link when I produce it is such that it slips to the unconscious. Probe your memories, and you will find me." Lady Deborah now instantly recalled the feeling of looking deeply into her own eyes as the link parted, and every movement subsequent to that. She laughed, as she recalled another errant glance in the direction of William. "I apologize," said Seldolivaw, an incongrously sheepish grin upon his face as he glanced downwards, detecting her thoughts. Then he seemed to collect himself. "I must depart now," he said. He solemnly kissed her upon her forehead, then the disc shifted backwards. "I am relying upon your aid!" he shouted down, as the disc rose quickly into the darkening sky. He watched the arena grow smaller beneath him, and noticed the early lights of the town. The disc rotated away from the dying sun, and shot forward into the night.

His coat billowed behind him as the disc sped onwards, forests and rivers flashing beneath it in the twinkling of an eye. As the wind became too much to bear, he erected a partial shield to protect himself minimally as the speed continued to increase. Now a bullet-shaped light flashing across the sky, glowing orange with a tail many miles long, he sped onward, leaving the realm behind.

When he judged himself to be sufficiently distant from habitation,

[unfinished from this point]

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