Around her the world began to shrink. No! Don’t lose consciousness! Not here, not now! Splashing her head into the icy waters she struggled on. Quickly she looked at the arrow in the cold light of her hand, let go of it. Another cry of pain filled the air as she jammed hand against the wound, a magical fireball in it to close the wound and stop the bleeding. Not my brightest idea! she cursed silently. Cooling her head once more she let go of the rock, swam away, eastward bound, as to avoid Leif and Whlana, who most certainly were looking for her by now. Will the brothers of the.order be able to stop him? Both Eric’s mental remnants and Fathala wondered.

“Do it.” the alabaster woman stood over Eric, her hands on his shoulders. “Our gift to this world awaits.” in Leif’s lap sat the Bane, sweating clouds of golden light. “No. She is out there. If she tells the.others, they’ll find a way to fight us, and they’ll descend upon us like the wrath of the heavens!” Whlana came round his.left side, like him she was naked, sweat dried on her skin, semen trickled down her inner thighs. “The bane could do away with the Sphinxes, they are most like he most powerful beings in existence. If they couldn’t fight its power, why should hey be able?” she smiled a peaceful smile. Leif’s glance fell on the trickle of semen. When she gave herself to him he could feel Whlana in there somewhere, resisting. It was not the same as in the other place with the alabaster woman. “It was mortals who made it, it will be mortals who’ll undo its effect.” he lectured. Taken aback by his reasoning her expression hardened. “Our gift can wait.” she agreed. “But do with her quickly.” again she took up place behind him in the great sanctuary hall, looking out through the waterfall.

“Please be swift.” Fathala thanked the Naga girl that took her message. She was about twelve, her mother and little sister spent the summer in the norh of the sea, but moved back to Naga’na in the cold winter months. Szihndaya vowed to abd hurried after her mother. The encounter had come as a relief to Fathala, after spending half a day in a ghost town, and an unknown amount of time in the air, contact with living, breathing Naga was more than welcome. After she found herself all alone in the icy waves once again Fathala felt lost. Tired she went to ground, allowing herself to rest for the night.Digging her stinger into the mud and rock of the sea floor he ensured not to be washed away by the currents, her wings drawn tightly around her she almost felt secure. “Go home. Tell them, and tell them to go through the archives, there must be an answer!” Eric stood before her, but his appearance was much changed. By all means he looked like a Naga man would look like if Fathala had to imagine one. His wings were ragged, but colored like liquid fire, his hand illuminating the ocean floor glowed more orange than the typical Naga blue. “You are a figment of my imagination, conjured up by my distressed mind.” she wanted to say, but beneath the waves she couldn’t speak.

“I am, true, but also the remnants of my memories and thoughts left in your mind, given form by both my memory of myself and your imagination.” his lips didn’t move when he spoke, but it didn’t feel like thoughts projected into her mind either. “However, go to the pole and tell them. Warn them.” “After I regained my strength.” she looked into his unaltered eyes, drinking in the warmth they spent. “Will you be here when I wake?””In a sense I’m always with you, and always will.” She felt as if she cradled her head on his curled up serpent like body. Just hold me and never let go. Never part my side again. Se fell asleep, deep, dark sleep without dreams.

Ravaged by wind and weather the small boat was not in the same condition that Fathala had last left it in, but still seaworthy. From Eric’s memories she knew how to operate it, maintain it. Within a day she had it ready to go to sea again. Since she couldn’t breathe saltwater, and the way to the pole was too long to fly, she decided to use Eric’s boat. I wonder whether the ithers nade it to the pole yet. Behind her the coast shrank to a thinner and thinner smudge on the horizon, vanished soon after. “Winds are with us, that’s good.” She glanced to stern, Naga Eric stood there, clearly enjoying the wind from the west. “Yes. But what will await us at the pole?” she had continued her way through the autumnly forests on wings rather than tail, that way she covered the path that took them close to three weeks in a few days. Originally she wanted to stay in Reedheim for a night, but the painful memories of her and Eric there was too much to bear, so she flew straight onward to the sea.

Besides, the fewer people she encountered, the better. For them. Leif might track her and might cause harm to anyone helping her. Seldom her glance fell west, afraid a light might shine through to her, taking her mind captive once again. Instead she continued east.

Within two weeks time she found a sail north east of her position. “That’s the ship we’ve met on.” Eric stood next to her as she stared at the distant canvas of cloth. “Still here?” she raised her eyebrows, fear grabbed a hold on her stomach. Leif!?

“No. They did not break through the storms around my home, sailed back to shore and refitted the ship like I told them to.” the plans he had drawn up for the crew for the ship came back to her mind. After following the sail for a while with her eyes she noticed that their course was bound to intercept hers before the much more violent seas. Taking the rudder firmly in her hand she hoped to reach them in time to meet with them. Still Leif might catch them wih he bane, but if they successfully reached the pole, he would turn on them in any case.