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Chapter One, A Grey Night, Section 6
by Stephen N. Barnes, Jr.

Section 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Hours later, Caedron stirred, then woke with a start. The rain had stopped, and quiet clouds had blanketed the light of the half-moon. Sleep-weary and confused, he looked around from his sitting position. The night air was cool and silent. Fendolas was nowhere to be seen.

"Argh!" thought Caedron, as he blinked and stretched. "Where did he goe?" He had fallen asleep seated leaning against the side of the cavern, and his body was stiff. He contorted his back in an uncomfortable stretch.

As he was twisting, a pale white light glimmered on the other side of the tree. "Hullo, what’s that?" he thought to himself. Squinting his eyes, he watched the light as it flickered and brightened. The light pulsated, glowing stronger, then paler, then strong again. It flashed, then sank behind dim shadows. He leaned forward to get a better glimpse.

At the base of the strange tree, Caedron saw a twisted figure crouching, holding his hands together in front of him and staring down at them. The glowing light seemed to spill from his hands. It shrouded his face briefly, then retreated into his hands again. The light flashed again, glowed for a moment, then sharply went out. Caedron, now wide awake, rubbed his eyes, looking again. He stood up.

He saw nothing but shifting shadows cast by the moonlight against tree limbs. The figure and the mysterious light had vanished.

"What’s this?" thought Caedron. He looked left and right, peering in the shadow of the trees for any movement. "Where’s Fendolas?" Grasping for his sword, he walked cautiously toward the tree.

Suddenly, a bright light blasted around the tree, as if a thousand lightening strikes had united in the weald. Crackling white light engulfed Caedron and his surroundings. The blinding force swept him back. He fell to the ground under the tree, hit his head upon a root, and lost consciousness.

All fell silent and dark. As the night air whisked around the tree like breath in cool autumn, a figure, hidden behind the hedges, moved quickly toward Caedron. It stooped near his unconscious body, paused, then turned and disappeared into the outskirts of the grove.

In the night sky, grey clouds groped toward the retreating moon and shaded its light.

Copyright 2000, Stephen N. Barnes, Jr. All Rights Reserved

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