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across the Marid. If we run towards the middle star in the constellation, we will be heading due east. However, the first star in the necklace doesn’t appear until midnight so we have to make sure we run in a straight line until then. One degree either side and we’re done.’ ‘We affordable jewelry won’t lose our bearings. I’ll make sure of that.’ Gerriod said with grim determination. He had spent so much time sailing the vastness of Lake Erras that navigation by the stars was the last of his worries. ‘Then let’s get ready.’ Pylos placed his knives down on the grass at the edge of the desert. He then pulled out his sword and gazed at its dark, glistening blade. For a while, he seemed frozen in time but then a decision was made. ‘No,’ he said staunchly and sheathed the blade. He then turned to face the Marid, AKIN TO PITY 69 staring it down as if he were trying to intimidate an opponent on the battlefield. ‘Pylos, I did say we’d have to leave all our weapons behind,’ Sefar said trying not to sound critical of the Helyan. ‘You said to leave behind anything we don’t need. I need this. I’ll leave my knives but my sword will stay with me. I’m not going down into the Endless without a piece of shatterstone between me and the Ghul.’ Sefar asked the group to assemble on the very edge of the Marid. He seemed to be enjoying the leadership that had fallen to him for this part of the journey. He suggested to Maeldune and Mulupo to shed numerous garments that he deemed unnecessary for the run across the desert. ‘Sir, I am happy to divest myself of my waistcoat and become sartorially impoverished, but I must ask you to explain why you are still bedecked in your silken finery.’ It was a reasonable question to ask. Whilst his companions had taken off numerous items of clothes as suggested, Sefar still wore the long, flowing robes he had worn since departing from Cessair. ‘I plan to when the time comes.’ Pylos looked overhead at the darkening sky. ‘Hasn’t the time come now?’ Sefar grimaced and reluctantly dropped his robe. Silence fell over the group. ‘What are you staring at?’ said Sefar, clearly embarrassed by the attention he had just received. It was Gerriod who spoke first. ‘Sefar, I don’t wish to be rude but, you… um… you have bird legs.’ The mariner was not being colourful. It was not his wa antique tiffany jewelry y to indulge in metaphor. Sticking out of Sefar’s breeches were thin yellow legs that ended in long talons, splayed out on the rocky ground like a fowl’s. Pylos could not help but stare. At first his face showed nothing, but after long seconds, the corners of his mouth leaned upwards, his cheeks lifted and he snorted out a snigger that was a trigger for everyone else in the group. As the Marid’s water spouts fell silent as twilight covered the desert, the raucous sound of laughter rolled across the land. ‘I’m sorry Sefar. I think of all the times we fought marauding bands of Kheperans, how savage you seemed, but I doubt you would have had the same impression had I known what lay under your robes.’ ‘Are you are all like that?’ Gerriod asked curiously. ‘It’s not just cheapest tiffany uk you is it?’ 70 CALIBAN’S END ‘What?’ exclaimed Sefar indignantly. ‘Do you think I’m some freak?’ ‘No but –’ ‘Well, for your information, yes, we are all like this. That is, all the males. Female Kheperans have legs just like yours.’ ‘But why keep it a secret?’ Pylos asked, still chuckling over the revelation. ‘Because of reactions just like this one. It’s embarrassing. It’s bad enough we have a damn horn sticking up from our heads, but –’ ‘I actually like the horn,’ Pylos said as he threw an arm around Sefar’s broad shoulders. ‘I’ve even wondered what it would be like to have one of my own. It would be handy in a battle.’ ‘Trust me – you don’t want the horn,’ Sefar said, managing a sm claddagh ring ile. He swung around to face the desert. ‘Now let’s get this done.’ And there they stood, on the edge of the Myr’s most inhospitable region, seven Myrrans all committed to the job they had to do – but not the same job. The shadow of night spread across the vast expanse of hot rock and steam. They waited for Sefar’s signal. ‘Go!’ As one they stepped onto the Marid. Gerriod could feel the warmth of the rock seeping through the soles of his boots. He told himself that if all he had to worry about was warm feet, he would be alright. Trypp was also surprised by the heat rising up from the ground but unlike Gerriod, he wore no boots on his feet. Fortunately, a thick layer of skin on the soles of his feet protected him from the heat. Whilst the desert floor radiated enough heat to keep the company uncomfortable, it was not enough to stop them in their tracks. Within a few steps of the edge of the desert, the marching pace moved to a jog, and after a few more steps, they were running into the night as though they were chased by marroks. They had not run 200 yards when a rumbling emanated from beneath their toes. Sefar screamed ‘Halt!’ and the company slid to a stop. Suddenly a great spout of steaming water broke tiffany jewelry the surface of the Marid not fifty feet in front of them. ‘Would you like to explain that Sefar?’ Gerriod hollered. ‘It just the Marid settling down. I forgot to tell you it did that.’ The geyser quickly disappeared and they moved off again. AKIN TO PITY 71 Pylos was running shoulder to shoulder with Sefar. He turned to the Kheperan and grinned. ‘You forgot, did you? Is there anything else you forgot or is that it?’ Sefar smiled back. ‘There’s probably more. I’ll let you know when I remember them.’ Despite the danger, Trypp felt at peace out on the desert rock. He was not troubled by the pace of the run, so he could actually enjoy the silence of the land. Although the Marid was devoid of any distinguishing features apart from the fissures caused by the day’s eruptions, it was beautiful in its own way. Desolate and foreboding as it was, it was also strangely engaging. He wished he could just sit on the desert floor and embrace the haunting loneliness of the landscape. ‘Perhaps I shall return here one day,’ he said to himself. ‘If I survive.’ He would survive. He was not ready to let go of the beauty of the world just yet. The stars began to swell in the eastern sky and out on the Marid, the stars were more brilliant than anywhere else in the Myr. Gerriod’s lungs were screaming but he gritted his teeth. He did not look up. It took every ounce of energy he had just to put one foot in front of the other. He focussed on two things. The first of these were Sefar’s tiffany discount jewellery incredible feet. As the Kheperan ran, his talons jewelry shop scratched up small clouds of dust. Gerriod watched the dust balloon up into the air where it hung for a moment before dissipating. It was not that Gerriod was particularly interested in the dust – or Sefar’s feet – but he had decided that the only way he would avoid slowing down the company was to stay on the heels of the only one ever to have crossed the Marid. Occasionally his mind would wander and at these times Sefar’s feet would slip from view. It only took seconds, but these lapses in concentration were quickly rectified by another image – that of an old mariner strung up on a monstrous crucifix living every sunless day a breath away from death. This image thrust Gerriod forward and soon the Kheperan’s talons dominated his view once more. Pylos just stared straight ahead. He was battle-hardened and did not doubt his ability to meet the challenge of the Marid, but he was a warrior, not an athlete, and he felt each step almost as much as Gerriod. But as a 72 CALIBAN’S END warrior, his resolve was forged in steel and he stared straight ahead like a good soldier should. Mulupo’s pace was erratic, much like the Spriggan himself. When the ran began, he sprinted ahead, like a domesticated snorse set free from its harness. But then he dropped back as his thoughts rolled on to other things. Every now an jewellery store d then he would gallop ahead, only to fade to the rear of the company in a pattern that would have exhausted anyone else in the group. Maeldune was struggling. Years of political life meant he was poorly prepared for such an arduous journey. His face was awash with sweat though it was a cloudless night. As he ran he spoke to himself. His words were unintelligible but their tone wa Tiffany Bracelet uk s not. There was much anger in his mutterings. It seemed he was chiding himself. He regularly flicked a glance up at the horizon to see whether anything had changed. Upon seeing it hadn’t, he would curse the situation and return to the litany of private thoughts that he articulated in harsh-sounding whispers. By contrast, Remiel was not finding the run difficult at all. He frequently cast his head around to see how the others were faring. His gaze occasionally lingered upon Gerriod. Thirty years had passed since Remiel had betrayed his brother, betrayed Gamelyn Blake and betrayed the red-headed cabin boy who had grown up to be a decent man in spite of the hand that had been dealt him. Not for the first time on the mission, Remiel pondered whether he should tell the mariner the truth – that he was the man whose actions had condemned Gamelyn to the Endless – but the enormity of the confession was more than he could bear. Sefar’s eyes anxiously roamed the skies to the south-east and north-east. ‘We should be seeing Heliope’s Necklace by now. It should be dead ahead. I’m worried we’ve veered south.’ Gerriod lifted his eyes from their downcast position and briefly scanned the sky. He did not look for a specific constellation or guiding star. A fleeting gl jewelry shop ance was all he needed to confirm what his instincts knew. ‘No, we’re heading due east. We’re right on course.’ AKIN TO PITY 73 Pylos had absolute faith in the mariner. He knew that Gerriod was not the type to speak up unless he knew he was correct. ‘Let’s keep going then.’ ‘Wait! Wait!’ cried Maeldune. Over the last five leagues he had dropped back considerably. He was limping as he ran. His pale complexion had been usurped by a ruddy colour that highlighted just how close to exhaustion he was. As he approached the waiting group, he was breathing so hard they all expected he would collapse any second. ‘Very well,’ Pylos said reluctantly. ‘Let us break for water so Minister Maeldune can get his breath back.’ Though they were all excruciatingly aware of what would happen to them if they did not reach the other side of the Marid by daybreak, no one argued against the prospect of taking a drink. Pylos moved aside to confer with Sefar and Remiel. ‘He’s not going to make it.’ Remiel looked over to where Maeldune was stooped over with his hands upon his knees. He had taken a drink but quickly vomited it back out. The pool of liquid sizzled upon the hot ground like an egg upon a frypan. ‘I agree.’ ‘We have to leave him,’ Pylos said bluntly. ‘It’s nothing personal but he’ll kill us all if we don’t.’ ‘Nothing personal, General? Are you sure about that?’ Pylos swivelled around to see Trypp’s large eyes peering back at him. The Sapphyrran would not agree to leaving anyone behind and Pylos knew it. ‘We don’t have any other options,’ Pylos said in response to the look he was getting. ‘We could carry him,’ Trypp proposed. B tiffany earrings uk efore Pylos could reject the idea, Trypp continued. ‘Between you, me, Remiel and Sefar, we could manage it. He is tall, but I doubt he weighs more than we could bear.’ Pylos wanted to tell Trypp that Maeldune was undeserving of such support, but it would have been pointless. The Sapphyrran was so kindhearted, he would have carried Caliban himself across the Marid. The idea was put to Maeldune who surprisingly agreed to it without a moment’s hesitation. Pylos thought that the self-important minister would not have allowed himself to be demeaned by such charity, but that was not the case. The race across the desert had either changed Maeldune – broken his spirit – or the Acoran had larger plans and was far too dispassionate and calculating to let personal pride interfere with his designs. 74 CALIBAN’S END A short time before midnight, Heliope’s Necklace appeared above the horizon and Gerriod was right – they were facing due east. ‘We just might make this,’ Gerriod said with more optimism than he had shown in weeks. ‘Perhaps,’ said Sefar who was worried about the time. He had no point of reference but he felt they were not as far along as they should be. Though he did not voice his where can you buy tiffany jewelry concerns to the others, Pylos could tell that Sefar’s confidence was waning. ‘Do you think we’re going to come up short?’ he whispered. Sefar did not answer with anything more than a nod. Pylos swung his head around to the company who were beginning to spread out. Gerriod remained closest, followed by Remiel. Behind them ran Trypp carrying Maeldune and some distance behind them, Mulupo Tiffany co brought up the rear. ‘Come on!’ Pylos called but they were all running as fast as they

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