That's it! Exactly how to protect yourself! You've succeeded, Selunia! You succeed! grinning grinning Elis barking in her hands. Selunia, hearing her words, opened her eerie eyes and looked at her with great care. She noticed how, around her enthusiastic girlfriend, there was a large, transparent, high-powered valley that played spectacularly bright energy protector. That's it! exclaimed Selunia full of emotion, unable to believe what he saw. This time I even managed to make a complete protection, I think ... "But why is he unsure of you? he asks Elis bumping theatrally. If you still do not believe, why do not you try to attack me? she adds, coming back once to show her the diaphanic sheath was completely closed around her.
|Regatul Arid - Soldatul Misterios - Partea I by Tina Silvens|
"Attack yourself!" "Yes, come on! ÃŽncearcÄƒ! Just be quiet that if she does not, I'll defend myself, no problem. Give yourself a few times to convince you that you have succeeded! Selunia stared at her in disbelief for a few moments while she was in her playful play. The translucent lawn even accentuated the boldness and brilliance of her long, blond-haired hair, her azure eyes and her face easy - a pink, lacy, long lace up to the knee. Elis was Selunia's girlfriend. Though he knew how lucky he was in protections and energy attacks, he feared he would hurt her. But seeing her insistent gaze, Selunia is courageous. "Okay," she said resolutely. Be prepared then! Without further thinking, Selunia raises a hand in the air, gripping Elis like a pistol, and concentrating to attack. Crystal chunks, embedded in the fighting gloves they wore, quickly emitted a series of light rays that rushed over Elisha like bullets. It was a simple and intense attack. Selunia wanted to be cautious. To the joy of the two faces, the rays fail to pass through the protective glove, but immediately break into contact with it. "Ooau, it even went! Selunia exclaims with astonishment. "Yes, I just told you you did," Elis joked. You've been able to handle all the fighting and defense techniques with crystal gloves lately. Turn away. "Since I have been told by the general that soon will take me with him in the Arid Kingdom, I have realized that I have to learn Soon all these techniques. I want to be really helpful, because here at the White Fortress, if I have not managed to awaken my inner strength ... "Selunia said with regret and sadness, Take your eyes in the earth. "Eee, Selunia! Leave this now ... Elis approached her, compassionate, watched by the protector. She regrets her. The lack of internal power was a great barrier to its progress to Cetate and, in time, it would become an obstacle to their friendship. Both Seluna and Selunia were aware of this fact. A male voice was heard coming slowly from somewhere behind Selunia: "Anyway, you do not even need it now! She immediately recognized the voice. They are facing the newcomer. He was Ryan, the youngest prince of the White City: a twenty-year-old boy, both angelic and Elis. In fact, everybody in this fortress was distinguished by this kind of cheering. Open or pale colors were characteristic of them, especially for the hair and their eyes. The fortress itself was a place of paradise: in the center there was an enlarged building, like a white stone palace with curved shapes that harmoniously blended into the large, round garden full of flowers, shrubs, hedges and decorative trees. Butterflies and pastime butterflies were not lacking in decoration. The city was not a common one. Apart from the palace in the center, other buildings did not exist anymore. All the citizens of the city lived in the palace. It was not surrounded by a wall, but by a far-flung forest, with a magical barrier, which made it impossible for people to enter in. Selunia was the only one of the citizens of the city, distinguished by strong colors: white, tri-violet and black, with warm reflections. While they were overwhelming, she, except for the intense color of her eyes, looked as normal as any mortal. Yet they had a typical stash, similar to Elisha's, but the browns. "Everything you want to do with these Crystal Maneuvers now exceeds the abilities of the Aryan Kingdom," Ryan continued calmly, stopping in their own right. Only for us is something very common, he adds, shuffling around the protection around Elisha, with a touch, under Selunia's disowned gaze. Elis fights. "Ryan, he's a cook! She sucked her. - I'm not a wretch! he quickly defended himself, baffled by her words. Silence the sun, seeing them manifest. They amused her every little discussion, because she always revealed the fact that they were crying. "I just said that all you got is enough for a place like the Arid Kingdom," Ryan continued, looking up at Elis. Then he turned to Selunia and he asked: - Have you practiced the sword? "Eaah, I love enough with the sword," she answered bored. Who do you need a sword when you have a crystal? adds fun and Elis. Selunia went on to take a sword from a nearby rock bench and began superficially executing a few swordsmanship attacks under Eusebi's amused eyes. Ryan followed for a few moments how he learned to live through the air; then nodding disapprovingly, pulling out a piece of paper from a pocket, he said, - Okay, I'm sorry, I get it. You do not need to show me anymore. I was coming to tell you that I just got a letter from General Arid Kingdom. Selunia turned back to him. Quickly throw the sword to one side and rush to take his letter from the hand. As soon as he opened it, he read it impatiently. Soon, he looked at his eyes wide and said surprisingly: "The General comes right to take me today! "How ?!" exclaims Elis. So fast? â € œWhile today, exactly? Ryan also asked surprised. What unexpected ... "Around twelve o'clock," Selunia muttered, letting his hands fall over his body. "The truth is that we do not distant too much between us and the Ariden Palace," Ryan said. The girls looked sadly. Their break-up came earlier than expected. Turn away. Trying to get fed up with fate. He did not dare to leave for the Ariden Palace, but he did not enjoy the idea of leaving the White City. Elis shakes quickly, she recovers her forcibly, and says: - Then come on, let's get ready! How are we? Come on! As he grabbed her hand with a mourning joy, Elis dragged Selunia after her. Ryan watched them run toward the palace. She had a rational attitude, detached from her departure. CHAPTER 1 Selunia was in her room in full agitation. Helped by Elis, she was preparing her luggage. He went to a place where he did not know if he would ever come back again. He went to the royal residence of the Ardensis family, who led the Aryan Kingdom, which was usually referred to as the Ariden's Palace, from the name of the kingdom. Her heart was a mixture of feelings of joy and sadness. Joy that she was going to go to a place where she had been once when she was only a young child, and about which the parents still said she was supposed to be. Because of their words and encouragements, Selunia believed that there she would be much better accepted than the White City, that her abilities would be much more useful there and that she would be able to live He has an honorable rank. It bothers her that for years she has tried to awaken the inner force - which she is very happy to possess - no success without even obtaining a vague sign. Without this ability at Cetatea Albă, even the status of novice soldier could not be obtained. He had reached the age of nineteen and could only handle the crystal gloves, while all the others were deeply concerned with the development and control of the inner force. For this reason, the vast majority of those in the White Fortress were distant with her, her only good friends being Elis and Ryan, whose strong ranks protected her from teasing or repugnant comments. Now they were her source of sadness. He was going to separate from them without ever knowing when he would be able to see them again. Elis, seeing her remain stuck in front of an open drawer, deep in a state of melancholy, approached her, and asked, "Do you hear, Selunia? But do you really want to go there only by the mouths of your parents? Do you remember what you were saying to yourself a few years ago? "Mmm, what? What did I say? she said, disturbing her question. Elis took a moment. He pretended to be Selunia-child and said theatrically: "I want to become the great help of the Soris prince! The Prince Soris was my best friend while I was in the palace. I want to thank him for something when I'm great. For him he will learn to fight! "Yes, yes ..." Selunia said, lowering her eyes back to the drawer and staring at the noise. Remembering her short and innocent childhood with the Soris prince, her face lit up with a smile. Seeing this, Elis approached her and said to her ear: "But it's not just about recognizing it, is not it? This is the place ... "Eiii! exclaimed Selunia to stop her. It has been a long time since then, I've been more than ten years old ... As she tries to number the exact years, Selunia stops herself from staring at herself and, staring seriously in the eyes of her friend, asks: "Do you think he keeps remembering me after all this time? â € "You are a minteee! "Elis answered. She sighs a long time looking at her how jolly she is in her face. He's doing very well what he wanted to insinuate. Elis continues to amuse: "Finally, you will meet the one who makes your heart beat like a bee's wings, hihihi! Since I've been waiting for you to hear your story ... Elis! "Come on, Selunia, do not be so shy. You know very well how I feel about Ryan. Why do not you want to admit that your heart has remained ... Elis! If it was clear, he'd say. Do not continue teasing me what I was saying when I was little. Even then, it was a simple friendship ... Now, leaving this joke to one side, you realize that, we two, could we never see each other again? Suddenly, in the room, let go. Elis quenched. Selunia had said something about which she had no courage to discuss. Taking a face of man with fate, Elis said calmly: "Until then, when we were still going to break up. Perhaps not this year, but I'm sure that beyond, Ryan will receive the Initiative Mission, and I will go with him and who you say when we will return to Cetate. With his hands behind his back, he leaned against the edge of a table and slowly added, regretting, hiding the face of Selunia, a paradise not to be heard: "Only if I had three of a kind ... But Selunia hears it. Feel her words as a trance in the soul. He bends back against the drawer. He narrowly squinted his eyes to block the tears, then said earnestly: "You are very well aware that I have been trying to find out how long I have been able to awaken my inner strength. For a while I forgot to use crystalline gloves only for that, but ... besides the wounds, I did not choose anything. He suddenly raises his face and looks in the ceiling so he does not cry, he adds: "I'm so sorry ... I do not understand why nothing went wrong when I was just like you ... - Selunia! he quickly interrupted Elis. Please do not be sad! So far, it is also our fault that we have not been able to help you. Everyone here has been hostile to you. Elis approaches her again, grabs her hand and encourages: - I'm sure you'll be there! I'm sure your parents know best why you need to get there. I say we should only see the good part of things. Who you are, maybe there you will be able to awaken your inner force and, later on, you will be able to come with me on missions! A glimpse of hope appeared on Selunia's face. It was a great idea. For a couple of seconds they are staring at each other and then burst into the river. "Hahaha, what's that serious scene?" Elis exclaimed, trying to resume her usual cheerful attitude. "That's it! and Selunia. Come on, let's have fun! It rotates in a circle a few times, holding hands as two little girls. It was an attempt to forget about the sadness of the situation, an excess of joy that superficially covered the soul's gloom. Suddenly, Elis suddenly stopped as if he remembered something very important. "Hiii, Selunia! How did I not think? That I was talking to the Prince of Soris earlier; are you going to go dressed in front of him? - But how? Selunia is confused. "Eeee, the first impression counts! Come with me to choose a beautiful dress! * Meanwhile, though it was not even 11:00, General Waltario of the Arid Kingdom, he had arrived in the courtyard of the White Citizen, headed by the prince Ryan. "We got faster," he remarked to the general. "Yes, sir." I have to move very tactfully and make changes to the plan to make sure it is not detected. Theoretically, the long war is over, but practically remains in a state of alertness. With a brief conversation with the Ryan prince, the general strolled across the white stone pavement of the citadel, toward the small castle where Selunia's room was also found. The general was a man in the elderly, with a bit of a heap, looking at it with a serious face and decision. He wore a wide, simple, metallic armor with golden insignia in his chest - a symbol of his great function. This equipment made it much more solid than it was even more impressive. In a hand a big package. As he approached the entrance, he paused to admire the building and all that was around, enjoying the peace and the peace typical of the citizens. The general was famous for his skill in the army's affairs, and although he had a dignity, he was a real commander, he was a bold man. "Heee, how beautiful is here to you! he exclaimed impressed. How well you will be independent of the Arid Kingdom and the control of the Central Palace ... In our palace, it's a terrible mess. â € œWe also have our problems, a respectable Ryan point. He did not know the general well, but his imposing character made Ryan choose his words well before he spoke. For him, the general was the only person in the Arid Kingdom he had ever spoken of. Besides, the general was the only one who could get in touch with the White Fortress. Selunia's parents were familiar with General Waltario and his lover, sometimes a place in the barrier where he could send letters to be received by Cetate and Finally, letting it in. Every time Ryan had been the one who opened the magic bar, he led the general to the castle. At some point, the general arrived at Selunia's room. It does so with a respectful but familiar greeting. Ryan looked at her with a glimpse of the garment that Selunia was wearing: a turquoise dress, long up to her ankles, without a waist, waisted, waist and white lace. It gave her a look of mood. He approaches Elis. He asks: "This is the dress from the party two months ago? "Yes, you turn Elis back. He's only going to meet the Soris prince. Ryan stayed with the thoughts: "Tell him that this man in the kingdom barely returns from a long war? I do not really think it's a good opportunity for her to go dressed festively. I heard your prince know he'd be a pretty fanny ... Ah, but if I say that, he'll surely upset me. " After a relatively brief discussion, in which the general reflects on the passage of time, Selunia receives from him the great package. While she was curiously singing the box shrouded in price, Waltario said: â € œYou can change in the suit of the package. I'll explain to you later what it's about. Now, I'm pretty pretty. I'm gonna wait for you in the yard. In about a quarter of an hour, we'd better leave. And so, out of the wonderful celebration dress, Selunia stood now in front of the mirror, dressed in a grotesque soldier suit of the Arid Kingdom. Elis, clothed, looked at the new face and masked all the feminine beauties. From any angle you were looking at, the final impression was that of a short and solid soldier. Even the face was unrecognizable with the protective helmet covering their eyes with a special smoky bottle. "I can not believe it ..." Selunia murmured disappointedly. "He tries to straighten the strap a little," Elis said, "no hope. "You can not do more than that. I admit I pretended I could not go there in the gown dress, but ... not even that. "Maybe you can change yourself to something else, before you meet Soris ... * Over a quarter of an hour, Selunia, along with the general, was on his way to the Ariden Palace. It was outside the city, in a large carpet - black, metallic, and smoked windows - which contrasted strongly with primitivism and naturalness in the surroundings. One of the characteristics of the Aryan Kingdom was precisely this contrasting aspect. Due to prolonged warfare, the military technique had progressed tremendously in comparison with people's livelihood. Thus, within the palace were military transport vehicles, video recorders, computers, laser guns, and all kinds of advanced technology appliances, while ordinary inhabitants the kingdom still secured their horse-drawn carriage and only if they had seen a camera. The wheels rode silently on the well-worn road. Inside, Selunia stared at the curious glass. It was not the first time that he went with such a mafia, but he did not leave the city for a very long time. The forest beyond the magical barrier, which ran along both sides of the road, seemed to grow up and grew louder. He had a vague memory of the route to the Ariden Palace. General Waltario broke the line at a certain point: "Selunia, you know I bring you to your mother's insistence. I have owed you to your parents for a long time and as a redeem, I promised them to help them with whatever they want. And that's all they wanted from me ... "But what exactly was the event that led to this" birthday "? She inquired curiously. â € œThis will tell you when they will think fit. Selunia sinks disappointed in her outfit. General continues: "What's more important now is that I'm going somewhere in secret; that's why I gave you this soldier suit. I still do not know if the royal family will agree with that. Selunia looked at him puzzled: "But why not agree?" "To be no problem with your integration into the palace, I will present you as my adoptive daughter. Some will probably think she has a relationship with my ex-marriage ... "So ... Selunia is trying to say, surprised by the General's proposal. "So, at this point, your name is Selunia Waltario. â € œYouâ € ™ ll have to tell you â € œtatâ €, did you not? She asked herself. "Yes, when that's the case. Surely you will be respected and safe at the palace. In addition, the royal family will not be able to object too much. (Adds slowly.) The queen hardly let young women enter the palace. The general mocks his voice, unwilling to detail the motives of "disgusting" too much. Selunia in his own daughter. continues: "That's because your parents are not around. They can not understand why we hesitated to bring you ... "Heee, I have not seen them for almost two years ..." Selunia sighed. They could not believe that she would have to play this theater of adoptive daughter. It seemed absurd when she had her own parents. But, on the other hand, it seemed fun to go to the palace under another family name. It is an intrigue to go to a place in such a mysterious manner. Her life park had become more interesting, more important. It's coming out of the repetitive days at Cetate where she still hoped and was still struggling to awaken her inner force, under the unbelievable or ironic gaze of those around. General resumes: "You'll have to be very cautious there. Basically, I can not say decisively that the war has come to an end ... "War ?!" "exclaimed Selunia. Are you saying that you were in the war soon ?! I did not know anything. "We have been in war for over five years. I've had countless attacks ... Let it be quiet. The general had grown up in his memories, while Selunia was staring at his helmet. She could not accept that she did not know something so important for so long: "Did Mom and Dad know about it? Probably Ryan was saying ... Why did not nobody tell me anything? Eh, until after, and if we knew we could not do anything. But still, it's serious! " As she awoke from her face, she asked him, "And Soris, that is ... the prince of Soris, what is he doing? It's good? The general nod of his head approached: "The prince is one of the very lucky people on the battlefield. He has fallen out of such brutal military confrontations without serious wounds or fractures; although he has been exposed quite a lot lately. He's thriving in all sorts of difficult areas ... Okay, no one denies that his actions grunted the end of the war. He wanted more than anyone to end up with the state of terror. Selunia listened to him carefully. She was glad to hear such talk about the old and her good friend in childhood. He was still reminded that he could not help it hard. He took a dignified figure and told the general: "I should have brought me here before. From now on, please let me join my battles too! With my abilities, I can help you a lot. With the crystal gloves you can create all kinds of ... "Do not Think, Selunia! the general suddenly stopped her. I'm aware that Cetate people have learned a lot, but the Arid Kingdom does not know magical weapons. In us all that magic, less in the circus representations, is considered evil. We must, I think, first get an agreement from the Central Palace. We must not disturb the order of the kingdom. In any case, please do not act before you talk to me, do you understand? "Yes, I understand, she admits it is spitting. He looks at him, angry: "What am I going to do there?" Will I stay for nothing? " Looking back, worryingly, towards the city that was no longer seen because of the magical barrier: "Will it be worse than the Cetate?" CHAPTER 2 Somewhere, on a sandy battlefield, Soris desperately ran in search of a place to defend himself from the bullet-laser rain that followed him. He felt all the men in the body, his legs frightened by the park, he was weeping with charcoal, and the sweat was flowing. Sleeping on the shoulders, on the neck and on the back. His dark face was completely wet. He was hot. He did not know where to hide faster. At a certain moment, seeing a large boulder, he quickly dashed forward, hopeful. Numerous laser bullets needlessly hit the upper edge of the stones. Within a few seconds, the bulging rain stopped suddenly. Soris, with his mouth open after running, could hear your own breathing and noisy breathing. Stressed, he felt the cold perspiration on his chest and chest. He was warm, but she did not want to take off her white, protective jacket with the metal inserts she wore. The lingering that was left around him worse disturbs him: "Probably he's approaching me at a slow pace." Get your fingers even better on your own gun. A windmill raises a wave of sand particles over him, which he tries to defend as best he can, hiding his face under one arm. He could not suffer that annoying bondage of sand on his wet face. "Now they will try to get more." he thinks, getting ready to attack. As soon as the wind stops, Soris rises from the stones and releases a few precise bullets in certain directions where he supposes that the enemies are. Quit suddenly because nobody was in front of him. To his great surprise, the battlefield was now free and incredible clarity. Stay for a few moments absorbed by the image in front of her eyes: "Have they retired?" On the horizon, well defined as a horizontal, straight line, the sky roaring like a fire reverberated a luminous light on the dry and smooth terrain. Observing the perfect circular contour of the sun, Soris took a hand to his eyes to shield himself from their strong rays. He was very confused: "What is that? Is that the sunrise or the sunrise? I'm so stingy ... Why can not I figure it out? " Even at that moment, a brief earthquake struck him. Scared, he looks around: "What was that? And where are everyone else?! Â €? The earthquake began again, and it still shuddered. Soris, seeing that the terrain becomes very unstable under his feet, showing signs of falling, starting to run in the opposite direction of the sun, hardly succeeding in maintaining his balance. "Run!" We are attacked! there was a strong cry out of him. There was a voice that seemed to him, but he simply could not realize who he was. Running in unsafe jumps on a soil that was actually under his feet, he had a troubled mind; he could not think of anything. One thing repeated to him: "I have to survive! I have to survive! At one point, I fell into a pit. Land on your knee. Was scared. The earthquake stopped. The tremendous terrible noise of terrible terrain was all set. He stood up and looked over the edge of the pit: apparently, he was once again deserted. Get out and go out of the pit. He looks around again: no one. The whirlwinds, with their deaf sound, start to see again. - Is anyone here? he cried loudly, tired. Hoping to meet the comrade heard earlier in the earthquake. Get the sweat on your forehead. He was breathing jerkily, his mouth open. "When are our three-day soldiers?" Immediately, however, someone protects behind him and comes to him to attack him with the sword. "Haha, I got you! he exclaims with satisfaction the enemy lifting his gun in the air. Soris, because he lost his pistol during the earthquake, quickly took his sword from his tear and defended himself from his harsh attack. It takes a step back when the two sharpened blades hit. He stayed for a second, then greeted him as hard as he could. The enemy, destabilized by his counterattack, rises sharply. Soris is not on his mind, but, taking advantage of the opportunity, he's rushing over his chest on his chest. The assailant did not expect a drop to the earth. Clouds of dust rise up after his fall. Soris rejoiced for the moment that he defeated: "I did not expect to get rid of him that easy. Hey, when I cried if there was someone here, I did not mean one like him ... " Suddenly, from somewhere over, desperately crying for help heard. They sounded like the voices of some of his soldiers. Start running to the source of the shouting. You were supposed to help your comrades. Did he come across a â € žpotecâ €? tortured, on the one hand and on the other, from a strand of strands distant from one another. Habar had no place where he was. He was guided by the sounds around him, and what annoyed him most was that, no matter how he ran, he no longer knew anyone. Tired, he stumbled to his knees. The cries diminished slightly. "Did we get it wrong? From here it sounds more clogged. " He rises from the bottom and shakes the dust. Look ahead. In the end, in the deserted landscape between the left, a human being appears. He had a quiet walk. He seemed to be a poor old man. Soris approached her slowly: "But what is this woman looking for here? Is not he afraid? " The old man turned to him. As he noticed, he was approaching him in a hurry. Soris stopped. The woman stumbled over him, shouting: - Curse! Because of you, my son died! You are dead now! To his great astonishment, the old man turns back, pulls a gun under her head and hunts toward him. With an agonized miracle, Soris pulled him out of his hand, hiding at his brother's neck, and then he said, grunting: â € "I did not want to die! I swear! Everything happened when I was back! "You brought him to death! If he died, then why are you living? The woman blooms with a rumbling voice that hurts the prince. Why are you still alive? Why do not you want to die here on this fight? - I can not! I'm sorry. I do not live only for me; I ... I have to survive at any price! He was troubled. At that moment, to his joy, defend two of his soldiers, who gripped the old man. Say it to the prince, still in a soul: "Another, it's a clock bomb near the palace! I do not know how to defuse it! Soris opened his eyes wide: "It was just that missing!" They are led by them to their place. Once, he knees in his knees before the bomb. On the indicator dial, only fifteen seconds remaining until detonation were displayed. Angry, with the nearby utensils, he unfolded as quickly as possible the lid and tried to find the threads that had to be cut. Being overwhelmed, you find that, inside, there were innumerable yarns and the same color, whereby whenever she walks, she can not find their point. With wide open eyes and trembling hands, he struggles in vain to undo the great thread of yarn. It seemed unreal what was going on. "It's only three seconds! He calls his soldier to his right. - Ready! It's over! He shouts the one from the left, dragging him from his arm. TrezeÈ ™ up! Soris, though he did not understand his behavior, remained attentive. He continued to search for the wires with a free hand. But the soldier began to beat him sharply, shouting: - Ready! TrezeÈ ™ up! It's over! Soris does not listen to him, despite his jerks. Ilogic, though the time had gone, the bomb did not explode, and Soris continued his research. Paradoxically, he found the much sought after thread when the dial was displayed less than three seconds. - Ready! I defused the bomb! he yelled with joyful joy as he opened his eyes in another place. Dreamed. He woke up in the bed of his well-known room, his body guard, Daniel, crying cryingly: "Soris, come on, wake up! It's just a chick! The war is over! The soldier who did not let him defuse the bomb was, in fact, Daniel. The prince, with his heart still beaten in the tumultuous dream, rises quickly, half and looks in puzzlement. His eyes stop on the boy who had tormented himself for some time to wake him up. â € sugar! It was just another maroon ... â €? he found, closing in his eyes to retreat. Sleep ugly. "Sufficiently, Daniel," he said calmly, his guards. Daniel lets go of his brother, then goes straight to an official, soldier's position. Soris was horrified to open his eyes: he was conscious of showing himself in the last hall. He did not want his personal guard to see him at such a stage. His dark brown cheekbones, his cheeks in all parts, the protruding curves and his nightmares, crumpled by his tired sleep, made a mild picture. And this was a difficult situation for him, who had been taught a little child to take care of the way he appeared before his subordinates. The uterus gathered the courage, and then he opened his eyes, and he sprang from his bed. Quickly take a straight, dignified posture with the hands behind you, staring upward at the ceiling. It was a bit of comic in the contrast of his all-embracing bones and his appearance. But Daniel could not see it. He was now standing with his eyes in the earth, knowing that it was not natural for him to give way to the prince's room. Soris walked beside him, walked through the room, then stopped in his seat, so he sat back with Daniel. After he got his voice, he asked with a firm voice: â € "Say. What's the problem, Daniel? "Well, yeah, yeah ... try, damn, Daniel to answer it. "Tell me what is urgent. I know that you would never mind me if it was not important, the prince approves of it. Daniel, hearing this, is courageous. "These are your parents. You told me, long ago, to let you know if ... "I'm sorry," Soris said quickly, knowing what he meant. So it's happening right now ... "Yes, in the small conference room. - Good. You did well to come and let me know. You are free to leave. Daniel Shepherd then greets him respectfully and leaves the room. In his mind he was still puzzled how Soris had gone so spontaneously out of that desperate state of survival into a worthy man of safety and stability . In the room, the prince, as soon as you heard his door closing behind Daniel, he let his shoulders fall into relaxation and coconut, under the pressure of fatigue that is felt in the neck, in the limbs and in the stomach. He just pretended to be okay. Letargic, with his head gone into desolation, he laments: "I can not ... I can not, I can not. They're totally destroyed. The war has eaten my body, and the palace, the soul ... The wounds of the war have not disappeared, the traumatic dreams have come to life ... and now, neither to rest I'm allowed. Every day I get closer to my end ... â €? I have a rebellious attitude. "But what does it take me for, what does the world say!" Give them all! Why should I always take care of my parents? What if I pretended to have heard nothing? " (In a self-compassionate phase.) "They are woe to me. I have every right to rest. I think I should ignore this problem. " After three seconds of pause but he pulls in, he tries to get his chest in front of a blooming bird, inspires deep He went through a new phase: encouraging. "No, it does not go that way! The man always wants this: the moment of weakness! But I do not, I do not let it go. As long as I'm alive, I'm going to defend this kingdom! I will fight for the honor of my family! Come on, Sor '! GrÄƒbeÈ ™ up! It's time to save the image of your parents! With an exaggeration of excitement, Soris passed to arrange himself for the world of the palace. Arriving in front of the mirror â € "from your personal bath in a room joined â €" he struggled up: â € žAleu, what are you looking at! I just hope Daniel did not look too much in my face. Ah! How stupid! Good that it was just him! Rarely because of his own, he has the strength to make himself bent, he throws himself several times or cold water on the face, then he looks and in the mirror. No Improvement. "It does not look good. These few weeks make me feel tired and sick. Eh, let's do it better. Fear the world for me than to take my toes. â € ?? It changes into a stylish day outfit: white with silver buttons, three-quarter jacket and black pants with various discrete decorations and simple black boots in the legs. In the chest, on the right side, he attached a golden emblem of a rhombic shape, marking his position in the palace. He combs quickly by pulling the hair so that he stays so ordered, made a general check on him, turns his back trailing his shoulders back, looking heroically towards and then go to the small conference room. * In the hallway leading to the hall, she noticed from the outset two servants, a woman and a man, standing with the sticks stuck to the door of that hall, in the earnest attempt to shoot with the ears of the conversation from the inside. Since when they talked to each other. "Do you hear, Brendo, you understand something? the man asks the woman. After all, why is it shuffling? â € "Shut up, fuck up! I think I'm just starting to catch something ... you're your maid. What? insists the servant. â € â € œSomewhere to be sure! Offf! That's what I'm doing, and that's it! Yeah, why, right? What the hell ... Hey! he finally drew the man, seeing that the prince was already close to them. "Can I also know what you two are doing here? Somehow ... listen to the door? And Soris asks the man. The two of them are playing and blazing in chorus: "Ah, no, Other!" We do not keep ... "Wait for me in front of my desk! I have to discuss something with you ... they cut them off, threatened, the words. "Yes, how to not, how not to! She greeted her in an uneven chorus, leaving her with respect. After seeing himself alone in the hall, Soris put his hand on the doorway, through which he could hear, even when his parents were rattling. They had a heated discussion with clear shades. Hearing, knowing too well what he was about to see inside. These quarrels were not very rare, especially since the official end of the war, and today it was not the first time that he was going to calm them down. He seemed to play a role in a play. He breathed air in his chest, took a little courage and sneaked in. The Queen - a middle-aged, brown-haired, brown-haired woman dressed elegantly - she yelled at the king: â € "Wretch! You almost destroyed that palace! You have not come to my life! Ever since you married me, you've been fuckin 'nonsense. You made my hell alive! You are irresponsible! If you knew how much I had suffered from "the fall"? yours, since I was going to die because of the poisons sent â € žcadouâ €? of your moods! The King - a brown, green-eyed man, clothed, "irritated by the words of his wife," he said ironically, "Take your mouth, dear queen. Why do you say I destroyed the palace? Were you with me on the battlefield? You have defeated so many armies of wildlife as I defeated? Do you think it's my fault that it took so long? If you were in my place, it would not have been over yet! Do not get away from the " my personal! You better think what has to be done in this palace! Contribute with you too !! The queen gathers her purse lips with nerves. He paused for a moment, barely abstaining to give him a slap. Soris, finding this moment of their silence, had the opportunity to intervene, he said, - Mom! TatÄƒ! Please calm down ... Believe he turned his glances at him, as though he had just been aware of the presence in the room. Soris took a step back, as he giggled with their intense eyes, with a harsh look: "I think I will now turn to me. Pfff, I know that I have not used myself until now with such eyes on their part. I always scare ... â €? The queen, as Soris had expected, took a finger at him. He turned back to the king and said with a touching voice, full of reproach: "Look at your son! Just look for a moment! How do I not take the so-called "tumbling"? your personal ones, even if our own son, Soris, was to drown under the hands of a cousin? of yours? â € œOf, and this discussion ... 鈥? Surely Soris exasperated in his mind, already learning the "righteous" monotonous and repetitive that their fight was following. Watching the detachment, waiting to park something. The king bent to defend himself: "Why do you always have to remind me of that accomplishment? That happened only once and ... And it was not really the " my. There was another situation ... Stop it! What matters is that you are living. Be thankful that he is anyway a stink, an impertinent who always thinks more than me! â € œHow do you mean to say, "you're bloody, huh?" How did he stumble when he participated with you in the war? He helped you to piss, ungrateful !! "Said the queen, grinning, and putting her hands on her head. "That can be done by anyone! Everybody can fight! the king is irritated. Not only did he go to war, but an army, ignorant! No thanks to him ended the war. And he, this bastard, is not able to lead an army, and thus to take over the throne! That was the proposition Soris had been waiting for. From his vast experience, he wished that after that there was a moment of silence that offered him the opportunity to intervene: "Mother, please calm down. You do not have to find the whole palace that you ask with my dad. I have already found some servants listening to the door. Please do not ask for my father through these chambers. The Queen responded with a very indignant figure. â € žAsta e! â € ?? he triumphantly exclaims. "Better with me, Mother; better take me to me right ... int ... â € ?? Looking at him, the queen laughed at him: What? Have you begun to give yourself to the king? Did you forget how impatient it was with you? Have you forgotten how he insinuated, like a great nerd, that you would not be his son? Have you forgotten everything I did for you as a mother? Soris was staring with an indifferent face, somewhere empty, on one side of the floor. He now expects to say nothing, not to answer any questions, not to be drawn into discussion in any form, otherwise the argument extends considerably, without changing its purpose "not to make any sense. The Queen, seeing her silently, disappointedly. He fixed him in his eyes and said harshly: - All you have is, Soris. Looks like I've been fighting for you. All my efforts to educate you and create to become an honorable, respectable man were in vain. All you have to do is follow your dad, to become like him: a crook, a bastard, a great bastard who thinks himself great and too! He stares up his eyes in the ceiling to calm down his indignation, then adds slowly, as if he thought aloud: "What a cursing fool I had ... I thought that if I educated you, you could form yourself differently than your father. But that's it: the chia does not get away from the trunk. There is no point in trying again. All men are the same! Then he walked in a hurry to him and left his room, almost crying. "The first part has passed." Soris point. "Now I have to say something quickly not to give my father the opportunity to sue me and to moral, for whom you spend time. I know what I'm saying. " He took a resigned figure and told the king: "But why are you so upsetting my mother? This was an expression that left Soris many memories. The park saw itself, as this question was, when it was small - with a great deal of enthusiasm, anger and emotional involvement - as it was now - "With a pathetic tone that masks, in fact, boredom and disinterest. He had repeatedly, in his life, repeated this scene ... The King turned to him, agitated by the queen's words, and he was still full of nerves: - What the fuck are you? And do you expect? And you take my life? Do you think if you helped me in the war, ready, can you be king? Go away! Did not I see you on the battlefield? Heh, you have no tact, you act without thinking ... so you are not in a position to lead an army! You are a wretch who has nothing to do but to criticize me for ... for what I am doing. Get out of here! From my point of view: You are not a real man! It rubs me that I'm your father! If you had sown with me ... it was much, much better! Necioplitule! See your life! Then leave the room, rubbing the door with it Soris drank and said with some kind of thanks: "Gata, it's over. We will also manage to resolve it this time. My magical solution also went on. If I support all their reproaches, it all ends quickly. Tiii, they have so much reproach. And when I think how beautiful they were with me during the war ... Hey, there's no time for melancholy now. I have to go to my office to talk with the two senior servants earlier. Let's see what formal punishment I choose to give ... "â €? * Quickly ending with the little office problems, Soris went to one of his favorite palaces: the upper terrace. It was a large terrace, located on the third floor of the palace. He pleased both for the panoramic view he offered, and because it was a more withdrawn area, protected from indiscretory looks of the servants concentrated inside the building. Pausing on the decorative stone pavement on the patio, Soris stretched his arms upward and admired the sky, clear and clear, soothing his thoughts. It inspires the fresh air and the glory of the crafted plants that were placed on the side edges in large stone pots. He walked slowly toward the simplistic carved marble balustrade, through whose gaps the green hills of the trees in the garden of the palace. Getting close enough to rest on her hands, she stared fascinated at the great landscape in front of him, as if he had first seen it. Every time he got here, he said, "Here I can see the whole Kingdom of Arid!" So you said so now, adding: "It's good that it ended in the war. Now there's nothing threatening to see. In fact, I can not believe that, on the same day, it's so quiet ... â €? He continues to look at the vast, dominated land of forests and human entanglements alive, and he was cast on the horizon by a hill. A bland breeze blooming and gleaming her face, shuffling her hair from her forehead. It was truly peace; peace that gave him a little joy. Oftentimes, however, this joy, like a fall of a drop of water in a large glass of glass, suddenly drowned in the soul, and it was going to evaporate quite quickly. He could not explain why, but the end of the war, which he had expected with such enthusiasm and excitement, did not really make him very happy. It felt hollow from the inside and very rigid out of the way, as though the many battles destroyed all of their senses, making it feel weak any emotion or joy. He had enough rest, but he was still tired. He had the feeling that the whole body had been trampled by a crowd of people. He leaned on his elbows, the edge of the balustrade. Hurry as he thought: "The doctor told me that he had suffered post-traumatic stress after that war. Deh, I was sixteen years old when I started with my dad on the battlefield. It's been five years since then ... I've been witnessing so many murders, and I, in my turn, have killed so many people, whether I wanted it or not. â € ?? He remembered the old man in the morning. It had not been just a delight in the dream world. "I did not want her son to die. That's just because he chose to be my bodyguard. " It enters a state of grace, sadness. He had fallen into a trap of the minds that he was in a hurricane of images of the gloomy past. Suddenly, it is easy to shake off your regret and the feelings of guilt that often rushed upon him like the rough slopes of the sea over a pier. It was still difficult for him to go over the violent memories, taken during military confrontations. "The Doctor told me to forget everything I saw in the war and only look at it now and in the future." He repeated it in hopes of going faster than that. He looked again at the sky: "How long do I want to fly, float in the air like a cloud ..." Every time he came to tell you this, he had a habit that he had from an early age: to get his feet on the railing to create the illusion that zboarÄƒ. Thus, although hesitantly because of the weakness that he feels until his bones, he tries again with caution to get on the railing, Take your right foot first. â € œAbia and expect me to know there up ... â € ?? Even at that moment, Daniel, with a quiet and joyful walk, appeared on the terrace. Knowing before that he will find the prince, he said, "Soris, what seems to me ... He stopped abruptly, spoke to him, seeing how he threatened the railing. His eyes wide, he put his hands on his head and said, - Soris! For God, do not commit suicide !! He ran quickly to him, grabbed by a brother and pulled him down from the marble edge, crying for him: "Soris, I beg you, do not commit suicide! You can not do that! I know your life is hard, but please do not do that! The people need you! Soris landed back, standing, clutching, unbalanced by Daniel's jerk. For a good bit of time, the prince was bothering to explain to him that he did not want to take his life. Daniel was hard to convince. He had a health condition, so now, as his doctor had advised, he was overwhelmed with encouragement and compliments. "Enough, Daniel! Ready to talk about it! exclaims Soris exasperated, in the end. Tell me why you were looking for me! "Well, I do not think that's the right time ..." Soris nodded nervously.) But, finally. I wanted to ... I wanted to say goodbye to you, before I left. I know I was your bodyguard for a short time, but I wanted to tell you I was ... I was more than honored to do that. Today I received permission from His Majesty to leave this post now that the war is over. I have to go home, to my family ... I hope there's no problem ... Soris stared at him for two seconds. He could not deny that his departure had gone down a bit. He had seen a good friend in him, even if he had been his personal guard for only three months. He appreciated that he was discreet, serious, and respectful, for which he had allowed him to speak without honors. But he, like all the others before him, did not want to take such a dangerous job. "No, you know there's no problem, Daniel. You are free to leave. You want to live a happy life after all your work in recent times, "he said, with an automatic politeness. "Good ... then ... I'll leave you alright, Soris! They let go, but they quickly fall away. He came back and added: "Please, please do not try to commit suicide. There are also beautiful things to see in life, believe me ... I felt really guilty if you had something to do after I left. "Stay calm, do not commit suicide," said the prince with a sigh. They could barely keep an eye on Daniel watching him cautiously. "Why did you have to come right now, to interpret everything wrong?" Daniel walks away with respect, greets him for the last time, then leaves the terrace, and finally, the palace in a hurry. Soris followed his departure. Daniel seemed glad he was leaving. He had no regrets. He did not touch the palace with anything or even a bit of the prince with whom he fought side by side. She had run away simply from the palace, like a prisoner, without looking back. Soris again raised his eyes to the distant horizon. Stuffed with himself: "Now, after all the battles have ended, I feel more alone than ever. My guard has left me, my parents only see defects and problems with me ... Heee, it's a pity that Daniel has gone so unintentionally. It does not say anyway that if the attacks are over, the prince does not need a personal guard. Perhaps he was afraid that soon, he would rush a new conflict and then he would not be able to withdraw. Until then, I have nothing to blame him for. No one wants to die ... just like my first personal guard during the battles ... " He breathed air in his chest, greeted a little, with the pleasant wind of his wind on his face, and he encouraged: "But it's a new day. From now on I'm going to take a new life, so it's normal for everything around me to change. " Turn around, look carefully if any person in the palace can see him, then he leaned his hands together, noisy, no worries. Habar did not have the fact that someone was actually watching him observe this free manifestation, this minor deviation from the rules of conduct of the royal family ... His face was projected onto a magical screen backed up and powered by a multicolored crystal frame, sharpened - placed on a stone wall, in an underground cavern in the kingdom of the kingdom, away from the palace. Eight people saw him, in real time, like a gaudy hazel. Among them was a young woman with a right-handed woman, long, up to her shoulders, trapped with a few floral decorative clips. Her black eyes followed the face of the princess. The rest was a barrage of men with barbarian figures, dressed in improvised fighting suits from various pieces of old armor and guns and guns. The majority stood on wooden barrels and gazed hostilely at the prince. Since when some of them turned their eyes full of disgust or disappointment at the corner of the rocks, he saw himself fascinated by Soris's presence. Her armor was also improvised, but so appealing to herself. She wore a body-length dress, short to knee-high, greyish, over which she attached a lined metallic strap to emphasize her silhouette; had an armor for forearms and high boots with eye-catching decorations. The purpose of his equipment was more aesthetic than practical. Vittria was her name, and though she was undoubtedly seductive, none of the men around her would dare to approach her. And that, because she was very skilled in the magic scepter she was now supporting - a long, earthy metal rod in which a big globe grew. of black crystal. "Ah, the princess is so funny! she excitedly sighs, exasperating the others. What a pity she will have to die ... she adds, shrugging her lips in an evil affair. â € œGet it over to the scent! said Leido, a man of fifty, with a thick voice. Do not you see how happy he is, while we are here in this vagina to watch all our daily movements? I say we will not have to wait for it again and attack it today! Do not remember me when you were saying, in the old days: â € žAtack whenever an opportunity appears! Â € ?? Now look what good opportunity we have: all are finished after that war. And where do you think they have no magic weapons! It's perfect! Let's attack the royal family! He still looked at him with much approval. Their eyes lit up with desire and exaltation. It was as if he had said out loud what they were hiding in. "Yes" indeed! exclaims one of them. Let's get her prisoners tonight! â € œAÈ ™ ae! another one agrees. If we attack them at night, we certainly will not be wrong. Let's impress it! It's been a day since he had to get here with the so-called "new jar". I say we are quite strong, just as we are now! Vittria, are you ready enough to launch the night spell? "Do you still wonder? "Ironically, she answered angrily. We only need a small plan and tonight ... "Let's attack! shout, shout at all. - But if the master will take several days? Then what do we do? one more awake woke to ask. "We can handle it, what are you scaring?" Leido answered. Once you capture it, it will not be hard for us to keep bonding until Bardan is standing. But why not wait for it? He said we'd attack them as soon as he came back, "said the fearful man. Leido stood up to think, then added: â € œFor later, it may be that you want to restore your protection as strong as it was a year ago when you could not even monitor it through the "magic eye". Did not you see how soon the general is moving? We can no longer walk through the front of the palace, without being detected! "Why not be honest, another one intervenes. Who does not get bored here? If Bardan stood here today, we were going to attack them today. Why should we postpone the initial plan, because of his dismissal? Everyone is embarrassing to him, happy that they have found all the arguments to justify their hasty decision. Vittria is nearer to the magical screen. He walked his hand to the hair in the projected picture of the prince, the park hoping to hit him. Slowly: â € œAh, we just expect to meet ... â € ?? CHAPTER 3 Selunia stood alone, deeply immersed in her thoughts. The Maine had been stopped at a road junction because the general had something to check in the area. She, for the time being, did not miss the White Citizens, the place that had been home for twelve years and, in fact, even more so than before. temporarily staying at the Ariden Palace. He did not miss him, maybe because he still did not believe he would never see Elis and Ryan again. "After all, I do not see why they could not even visit them until they get the" Initiative Mission ". I will ask this general! " It was not the only question he wanted to address. In her mind she had already gathered a bunch of questions, which she knew too well that she could not get the answer in a single day. The general was a benevolent man whom he had known since he was a little-so you were so familiar with him. He was willing to answer his questions, but he was also a man very preoccupied with the affairs of the palace. He did not have the time to talk too long, except for those who looked for the good of the kingdom. The Arid Kingdom was one of the ten churches that shared the entire Centeralum continent. It was called "Arid", not because of the relatively limited portion of the city, which was a king of the kingdom, or because it was poor, but because of the numerous attacks and confrontations military. Bars of barbarians from other continents, or isolated tribes, from the neighboring kingdoms, were keen to control this prosperous fortune, with fertile lands rich in resources and ores. The rumors were saying that it was not only the reason for belief, but also a mystical, stricken palace. Not everybody knew that the present Ariden's building had been built on the foundation of a smaller and very old - whose history was not well known even though it was king, and so much less is known that some of the mysterious construction had been preserved, maintained, and defended until now by all those who had ruled the Arid Kingdom. It was not a tradition, but a command of the Central Palace. Everything Selunia tells about this â € œPalat Centralâ €? it was a very narrow terri- torial formation, compared to the continents of the continent, but to whose leadership everyone ought to listen, less the White Fortress - an independent, neutral zone , which was found, as an enclave state, on the land of the Aridenes. The main purpose of this palace was to maintain peace among the kingdoms or, in other words, to oversee the whole continent. General Walta Rio had once told her that as soon as this institution was imposed, no war between the kingdoms was continued. These have been totally forbidden, thus blocking the possibility for the countries to extend territorially by army. Selunia could not understand how the Central Palace succeeded in imposing itself so well that all ten churches were so obedient to her, and even to be afraid of them He's breaking a command of hers. He could not also understand why the White Fortress was independent of the Central Palace and implicitly of the Arid Kingdom, on whose earth it was. "All the struggle for peace, a noble man, then why does not he cooperate? When am I secretly sent here? " she asked, deciding that once she arrived at the destination, learn more about both these three formations and those who attacked the Aryan Kingdom . Selunia felt uneasy in the soul. Something was weird. Not only the surroundings were a mystery, but also her own life. She feels that her parents were hiding something from her; they hesitated for a long time to tell him, because he did not have the necessary age. Ironically or not, now that she was in need, they were away in a long mission, from which she did not know when they would return. "They know I'm their baby." thank you so she says. â € œSemething with them in many respects, and from what I heard in the Cetate â € "even from people who did not have much to my heart â €" is clear that they are my true parents; they also confirmed me for so many times ... â € ?? Her thought was interrupted by a general discussion with a subordinate. He could hear her very well through the red-hot glass. "So, does the prince now have no bodyguard? Do I have to open a competition again for this post? the general's questioning voice was heard. Silence the ear ears: "Can I become myself ..." "No, I do not think it will be needed," answered the subordinate. The Aripini Kingdom has already sent us a replacement. Hope of Selunia is a bit slower. The subordinate adds: "Even if we are going to compete â €" though I doubt that we will have other candidates â € "by its own means we have to let him know how much tigÄƒtor ™; just do not send him back home. The Fleet Army has helped us enormously in this long war ... "That's it. It does not happen that we will continue to solidify our alliance with them, especially now that we are in the alert. We'll leave the one sent by them, but they will not pass through a contest, be it alone, "the general said at last. He signaled to all the soldiers to return to their positions and continue to the palace. Selunia's loud heart: "He wants to take part in the contest. If I prove to be stronger than that candidate, I do not see why he would not accept me. It's about the security of the city just ... â €? They remembered Soris, of their short childhood together. He could see the park in front of him, that cheerful and foolish boy who would have sank in her defense at all times, not allowing anyone to do or say anything ugly to > Of her. But she did not know, now, why most of the people in the palace, from then on, looked at her with reserve, like a strange nature, and others even had mocking attitudes. A few children found in the palace were running away from her as soon as they saw her. Soris had been the only one who had been forced to come along and invited her to play. He was the one who had taken it by hand, and he had lived after him to show him all the beauties of the yard and of the building. Those wonderful moments did so until now Selunia said: "Hhihihi, it was so good. It's unbelievable that I will meet with him after all this time. I hope to recognize. So let's be good friends next. But in the true sense of the word, not as Elis insinuated. I mean, uh, that's it. I liked it with him then, "I think. But that's just because he was so good to me, not because ... not because he would have loved him. I mean ... I do not know what to say. I know that for a long time, I admit, I wanted to become his protector. When I realized it was impossible, because he was from the Arid Kingdom, and I from the White Fortress, I said I would follow the course of things in the fortress, but I could not qualify in any way way. With every year I could not awaken my inner force, the parents consoled me with the idea that I would become Soris's protector, that anyway they intended to get there, not from I know what their reason they do not want to reveal to me - another mystery! Ah, maybe they know why I can not wake up my inner force. I also saw them insecure, in fact, what to do with my fate. Sometimes he would have wanted me to persevere in Cetate, sometimes to become the guardian of the Soris prince. The general returns in the car. Closing the door, she awakened Selunia from her dilematic thought. The big and heavy vehicle started again to walk on its solid wheels. The general stands better in the bench behind the space compartment, Selunia loses. She felt that her silence was dubious, Waltario turned her face to her. Selunia, with no more eyebrows than the petitioners, gathered your lips together. He would have wanted to ask if he could participate in the contest for the personal guard of the prince. He read his prayer. He said to his jersey, "Do not Think! Selunia leans back, leaning back against his back. "But let me try, she insists on being a child. "Selunia, be, please, rational! Leaving aside your unusual abilities for us, I can not leave you because you are a girl. But, why? Does any law say girls are not allowed to participate? "No. There is no such law. But, until now, no woman participated with us in the war. For us, the Arid Kingdom, it is a great absurdity that you want to do. Are you aware of what kind of dangers you can expose? The battlefield is not a playground ... "I know that too, you do not have to tell me! She says indignantly. But do you know what beasts and creatures I fought at the Fortress? I am defiant of being no longer ten times stronger and more dangerous than a man! Immortal, he looks at the general. He looks somewhere in the void, continuing to talk, as if he thought out loud: "It was my main task at Cetate: to protect her from any creature that intends to attack her or who would overcome the city's barrier to pass through the kingdom. This is why I learned, first, to fight with the crystal gloves and only later to protect, to protect a person. Most of the time, I was going to destroy the attackers alone, before they came too close to the city or the barrier. We hope that, so, surrounded by dangers, my inner force will wake up and defend me just as it happened only once when I was only five years old. But it did not happen as long as I tried. So, as long as I fought for the White Fortress, I could not get any rank. Selunia leaned on his knee elbows, wrapping his hands in his hand. Hurry up, annoyed. The general stared at her, astonished at her words. He does not know what he might say to her. Besides, everything she had said to him did not make much sense, it seemed like a fantastic field. Shortly, she noticed her long, curly hair, caught in a tail, hurtling on the back of her suit. "Selunia, you forgot to hide your hair," he remarked, simply. Bored, Selunia put his helmet down. He turned his face to him and asked only one: "That was the problem now? Then he quickly squeezed his hair into an improvised coke, over which he carefully replaced his helmet. He resisted the backpack again. â € "Multimedia? She asked her ironically. "Selunia, please let me know that I'm doing all this for your safety. It's best to look like a soldier, not to pay attention to you. They are still worried if you will be accepted at the palace. There are so many problems ... But if your parents have insisted so long now ... Selunia suddenly had a glitter. An idea had come to him. "But what if I pretended to be a soldier all the time? If nobody would know I am a girl, I could participate without problems in the contest! "Selunia, leave those nice ideas! How long do you think you could do that? Renounced> Äƒ! "Pfff, but I'm gonna fight. May I be useful, she barked, letting her husband fall in her chest. The General looked at her compassionately. He spoke in a calm voice: "Eh, now do not be sad. Probably I will find you some positions in the army. But you have patience; First, let's see if you will be accepted by the royal family. Until then, please do just what I tell you. "Okay," she admitted, "she resigned. Waltario touched you for a few moments, then said amusedly: "It sounds strange that you want to be a bodyguard for the prince, when everybody is banned from such a job. We had brave, dignified soldiers who said they were not afraid of death, but who, after being wounded, barely waited to escape this function. And this, to their great joy, happened soon. Soris dismissed them as soon as they wore a more serious injury. There have been fierce battles in which he was the chief principal. They all relied on the fact that he was young, that they could catch or kill him more easily, and thus managed to get faster to the throne. Waltario becomes serious. "The first bodyguard died quite quickly ... Soris was very strongly marked by that incident, especially since the mother of the deceased tried to vindicate him ... Selunia stares at him, astonished. "How did he mean to try to avenge? "He tried to kill him poisoning him a few years later. Soris went through a rather difficult time then, poor of him. Anyway, since that death, Soris has often changed his bodyguards. As soon as he saw the wounded, whether it was serious or not, he was out of position. He said he would try everything in the slightest time to stop that crash. That's why he became a better, stronger fighter. I admit that even for me would be a difficult opponent at the moment. Selunia listened to him. She now feels compassion and admiration at the same time for Soris: "Now, he wants to help me more." For a few minutes, after this discussion, in the car, only the noise of the wheels was heard on the road that was drifting, and it was still covered with gravel. Firm, Selunia was broken, at one point, the line: "But how can I claim to be your daughter? I was here when I was five years old and I stood there. Does not anyone really remind me of me? "I know you've been. Then your parents left you in my care, because they did not know what they were doing, and at the White Fortress, for a reason completely unknown to me, they could not leave you. At that time, because it was hard for me to explain the whole situation, everyone knew you were an orphan. So, if I say I adopted you, it will not sound too suspicious. - Orphan !? Was that what the world believed about me? And then, just for such a reason, should they look so scared at me? Selunia insisted on him. "That was not the reason," he replied, disturbed by bringing this into question. Those who have taken the idea that your parents are from the White City have given you a rumor that you have dubious origins ... For a large part of our kingdom, the White Fortress is a dubious place where there are unusual people, though, some sort of monks. You see, somewhere, it's a truth, considering what you said earlier. Selunia turned his head to one side, hiding his anger. Those â € žoriginis doubtfulâ €? made a direct reference to her parents, whom she cared very much for. Father and White Fortress find me strange because of my parents. Ah, I do not want to remember this again. " The general, feeling that she had grown up in a certain sadness to draw her back to her, asked her: "Did you hear you say anything about some creatures? Where do they come from? What does it look like? Selunia turned back and said to him calmly: "They come from the nearby islands hiding in the barrier's barrier. Because of them I could never go see the sea. It is said to be too dangerous for those with uninjured inner force. The creatures I talked to resemble the usual animals in the forest, only that they are much larger, and instead of the fur they have a kind of smoke ... "It sounds fantastic and incredible for someone like me, who has known only men and barbarians in battles," the general remarked, looking up at him. If you had not known your parents before, to see with my own eyes their extraordinary powers, I would not have believed what you say now. It's terrible if there's anything on the earth. "Eh, feel free to be quiet. The beasts I was talking about had no reason to get here, said Selunia amused. Their extinction is one of the main purposes of the Citizens. "Then, that was the only problem we were missing in the kingdom," Waltario said gently. In a few minutes, looking at the window, he noticed: "I almost reached the palace. In a few seconds we'll be in the yard. Selunia had a thrust in the soul: "We've come! It'll be okay. I hope! Â € ?? The mast passed the entrance gates. She longs for a long time, trying to control her emotions that speed her heartbeats. He had finally arrived at the Ariden Palace. CHAPTER 4 Inside the palace, Soris was talking to his father. The king managed to calm himself well after the morning struggle. He looked relaxed, but carefully, with some documents. They were in a confined size room, with two desk tables and wood furniture finished with decorative sculptures. On the ground, there was a rustic rug that emphasized the feeling of comfort and warmth - given by the rays of the sun that poured in through large windows with golden frames. Soris, leaning against a desk, facing a window, said: "Now, Daniel left. I know it's not urgent, but I'll have to choose a new guard. "You already know who will be your new guard. No more contests this time, "the king said, stamping a few stacks of papers. Soris turned back puzzled toward him. "But why do not you want to respect the rules now? Until now, I have always been disturbed in this regard. The king rose from the seat of his office, making a few steps toward him: â € œWithout the world's vision we may be doing â € "although we do not know if we ought to waste the time and something. But basically your bodyguard is already chosen. The Aripini family sent us a man of theirs for this. It's kind of a gift they gave to them because I ended the war, and their army could finally return to her home. They said they would like to keep in touch with our good collaboration relationships and after the hard time. Soris glanced at his father, back to the window, smiling amusedly. He crossed his arms over his chest and said ironically: "They offered a bodyguard only now, after all that was more difficult and more dangerous passed. As long as the war was, they were afraid ... The king stood cheerfully, not taking his eyes off him. "Do not you understand that you are not gruffing something about the bruises?" He asked Soris, following a reaction from him. Soris ran for two seconds. She felt the pressure on him. He had chosen his words well before he answered. "She did not even say disgust. It's just one of my observations, following this "collaboration" long. They helped us, I can not deny it, but with a great deal of care and caution. I thought we were cowardly people, they did not want to park ... The king eases the gentleman, interested in his words, waiting for him to finish his idea. Soris unfastened his arms and turned to face him. "Their army was visibly less prepared than ours. Her only strength was the much larger number of soldiers than ours. I could never send them to the front. "It's normal for them to be weaker than we are. They do not come from a warrior kingdom like ours. However, you have to admit that thanks to them we come out with the winners. "Yes, yes, it is," Soris said, letting her gaze look aside. But I can not believe that those soldiers were part of their elite, just as they claimed. Slowly, then add slowly: "I do not think they've sent any valuables here. The King smiled sharply, putting his arms on his chest. "Who would send the best to a neighbor with precarious fury? But, son, what's the matter with you? Are you somehow sorry that you have sold your freedom to such an army? Soris quickly raises his eyes to him, as though he was wary of his words. The King gazed at him with zeal, satisfied with his reaction. Soris grinned grimly, clutching his right fist with power. He would have wanted to crush his face from the face, surprise him with his shot, as hard as he was surprised by those words. "For a long time, I hate you ..." he commented, hardly straining. Then he closed his eyes and became amused by the king's words. He opened his eyes and turned his ironic mood: "But, dad, when I said I had my freedom?" This is something that only you did when you were ... sorry! In fact, when were you? married with his mother, forced to build his own army. Seeing that the defiant attitude of the king is diminishing significantly, he adds with normal tone: "Well, I remember: I was not forced, but I accepted for good! "You say that only because you're just engaged," the king said, ugly, among the teeth. When you get like me, you'll understand me. So it's not like you are now, uncomfortable ... The more I look at you, the more I start believing that you will destroy the kingdom . Only that you will not do it willingly, but from naivete. Soris would have wanted to defend himself, but he thought he hesitated: "Why should I always go with him to such conversations? I was hated by his responses. " He leaves his hand and he sincerely asks: "You do not understand why you always want to change such words. Why, then, when we were on the battlefield, we were so well-meaning, and now that the great father has come to an end, when we need to be quiet at the palace, do you see all the worst of me? "Offf, and you start with sentimentalism, the bored king is bored, and you are exasperated. You've been immature ... Soris sigh, and he realized that there was no point in insisting. The king resumed his normal stature and answered it only: "On the battlefield we had the same objective, you were on my side. Here, you immediately gave up on your mother's side, so you chose to go against me ... "he said goodbye," he ends with a brief smile. Soris looks out the window, trying to clear his mind. He was too tired to fight back. He turned to his father and said resignedly: "Finally, let us leave this aside. Better tell me what you know about the candidate sent by the Aripini Kingdom. The king turned to his office and stumbled into a stack of hats. Trying to remember something, he said: - It's a guy ... Dual ... Soris returned puzzled. â € œWhat does a dual type mean? He asks uncertainly. The king took a distracted sigh. "Dual is his name, I'm not talking about character. Rarely dazed by the comic situation, then took a file and told him: "Watch yourself on his file, see that I do not lie to you. Sounds like a pretty good guy, after the performances enrolled there. Soris took the file and read it carefully. Indeed, â € žDualâ €? was the first name of the candidate sent by the Aripini family. "They'll get to us tomorrow afternoon. I hope you get along well with him. The Princess looked at the page with the name and image of the new candidate. He's raising a sprinkle. "Will anybody be able to trust anyone with a name so dubious?" * The broad porches of the Ariden palace opened quickly in the highway of transport. Selunia draws his face to the window, leaning against his hands with thick gloves. In the yard, dozens of soldiers wandered around with various construction materials. They helped to rehabilitate several palaces in the palace that had been affected during an aggressive bombardment during the war. The castle sees itself in the midst of a vast backyard, covered by a pool of dust from the soldiers' activity. The large five-storey building with three towers is bigger than the sky with their conical, gold-colored roofs that had been hurt by attacks. Enemies seem to want to conquer an entire castle, not ruined by their own projectiles. The white-yellow palace was simply decorated with light, light-brown elements. Around it, radiant, modestly groomed gardens, full of shrubs, hedges, hedges, and rose bushes of various colors that gave them a romantic shade. Selunia admires, with her mouth open, her new house. It seemed much, much larger than the White City, but less appealing and even less welcoming. It seemed just an oasis of rest for the army, not an impressive palace to represent the royal family. The machine stopped abruptly. Selunia slid off the window and turned to the general, waiting for the indications. "I'll be waiting for you here," he said calmly. You can help but please do not go too far with the machine. As soon as I have a little talk in the palace, I'll come and pick you up. "Okay," she said, hiding her emotions. The general left, scrutinizing the surroundings, then walked toward the palace. "Let me talk to the prince first." He said, in his thoughts. "He'll be able to get the approval most eagerly. I'll think more about what I'm going to tell the king and the queen ... " Selunia goes outside, a few seconds after him. He turns back once, watching carefully around. It was a beautiful weather, a sun blazing on a clear sky, accompanied by a gentle breeze that dampened the dust and the smell of construction. Slowly I say: "I think I'm going to miss the scent of hyacinths and the queen-nights of the White Citadel. Do my parents know about the current state of the palace? Why did they insist so much that I could get here? * Soris walks out of his dad's office. He closed behind him, then looked disoriented, in the shit, and right on the space corridor he was just sitting on. Everything looked like five years ago, before the beginning of the great battles: the same long, yellow-gold carpet, shaded by brown stripes, with geometric green-white figures, the same walls inerted and the stones of the stone - they are being dressed here, with a painting illustrating either a landscape or the figure of a royal family or army figure - and the same and arches of cumbersome, decorative marble that supported the larger ceiling. Only people changed. Soris started slowly to the right, unsure where to go, but eager to go as quickly as possible to his father, where his presence was not wanted. "Anyway, I find it very difficult to get used to his attitude. He gives me a shit that both he and his mother can change radically. I remember my dad beating me on my shoulder, encouraging me, and praising after every bat, and when we returned to the palace, my mother was waiting with open arms. He's very happy to see me live, I've gotten out of the fight, I'm fine. Now I park no longer anymore. " (A fugitive, loathsome thought, crossing her mind.) "Oh, come on, she admits it was not the joy of her motherly love. When you go to battle, do not you know that she was telling you to come back alive, because she does not want to make another child anymore? Haha! Naivule ... â € ?? Soris shuddered grimly, disturbed by this memory. â € œEh, say ™ ™, and she, in joking ... â €? he conspired with bitterness, stopping at the first intersection of corridors. He put his hands in the old, with a sigh. She felt very tired inside. All his powers were exhausted with the end of the war. You see your life as an infinite amount of debt and responsibility to the palace and to the whole kingdom. It is now that it was not the time to prove weakness; in fact, it was never. Yet now it was the most fearsome and discouraged. According to tradition, he had already reached the age of full maturity and could become king, but that did not make him too much pleasure. For him, more power meant more burdens and worries. He could not understand those who wanted to put on the throne with so much fervor. Being the ruler of the kingdom means to be a man dedicated to the utmost goodness of the people, privately owned by any form of entertainment and limited by the palaces' traditions and laws - in, he thought. Already it seemed to be overwhelming the problems that had worsened in the kingdom: the booming of certain villages, a great number of local looting, the weakening of the defense system, the disfavouring of the people to the leadership, the pressure of the Palace Central; And it seemed that all this was not enough, defeated, and deficient in the organization and internal discipline of the palace. Soris was choked by these, the pressure of those around him, the expectations he had from him, his abilities that he could not even forget when he was. On medical leave. He's raising his eyes to the ceiling. He carefully scanned the marble stones that he admired when he was a child. Now they were no longer fascinated. The park was an abstract representation of all its worries and they were placed up there so that they could crush it well when they fall. Soris shook his head, realizing that his mind had deviated exaggeratedly in a pessimistic view. It was in itself, and he said, "I think I'd better go talk to General Waltario. I might be crazy if I'm alone a lot on this corridor. " In just a few minutes, he arrived, running, at the general's workshop. It goes dark and disordered. The general was passionate about weapons, the design and development of new ones, as well as innovative surveillance and protection systems. That's why he did not have a desk, but a workshop. Here he had stored all sorts of old and new weapons, either taken from enemies captured, or invented by him or by others like him. In the center of the room there were two large tables, which were filled with heavy rolls of paper - plans and weapons designs or maps of the kingdom. This was also the place where the battle plans were drawn up. Close to the wall in the left, there was a modest, brownish couch, which the general sometimes rested. Soris was fond of this sofa. During the conversations with the general, he obeyed and could admire all apparent objects of various metallic materials hanging from the walls. Seeing that Waltario was not inside, the prince joyfully groped on his favorite couch, which, in whatever condition he had, seemed much more comfortable than the bed in his own room . In his negligent groan, he hit his right shoulder, which had not yet completely healed a wound in the last battles. He wandered a little, rebuking himself for imprudence, then gently stroked, sinking his head in a small pillow. Soon the curse of the fire stays in the soul. I began to look everywhere in the room, looking for a new one, and sleeping slowly, sleeping on her eyelids. He says he can sleep here without worry, because the general was, for him, the kind of second parent he was better off than the king. That's why, around him, he allowed himself to speak and show himself without any restrictions. Waltario was a loyal man to the royal family; would never have revealed anything to anyone. Just when he was about to run, the door of the workshop suddenly opened, making it easy to pull. Pawns, accompanied by a metallic clatter, are heard. Soris relaxed his head back. She was Waltario. "I hope I do not mind you, General," said the prince, putting his hands under his head. I am doing what I do and I always come to the conclusion that here is the most relaxing one. "Absolutely no problem, Other. You can come whenever you want. I promise I will not let anyone bother you, he said respectfully. Soris looked at him for a long time, then began to laugh with Waltario. This formal way of talking to him was more of a joke when no one else was at the face. Soris was not a maniac after the formalities, and so any known man of trust allowed him to speak without honors. "Ah, well, it seems to me that I can rely on you, General," said Soris binedispus of his appearance. Last night I had a horse again, actually, in the morning - that I woke up a little later. Even so, sleeping more, I feel like I did not sleep at all! Or perhaps I have not actually been sleeping for so long. By three or four nights I did not fall asleep. The general listened to him as he approached one of the tables and started meticulously ordering the rolls of paper. Soris had this habit of giving him all the activities of the day, whether or not he was dating him. Waltario does not mind this. She kept her as her own child. He had a great deal of compassion for him, especially now that he was tortured by the trauma of the war. "I'm only awake for a few hours, and I'm already fatigued, as if it were an entire day! Ah, where did we have that energy when we were little ... - Have you been to a doctor today? He asks Waltario to drag the hand of a drawer. "Oh yes, I was. He changed my bandages again. He said I was progressing well, but I still need to take care of it. He's as boring as ever, "said the princess, closing his eyes under the weight of sleepy eyelids. Soris continues to tell the rest of the events seen and lived in the palace at a downward pace controlled by the power of sleep. The general did not pay too much attention to his monotonous story, but he focused on how to bring Selunia. He did not like to lie, much less to the royal family. It seemed to me that no matter how good the reason, mind, or hiding something was an unforgivable, condemnable act. That's why he had difficulty expressing himself. Whatever he was doing, if he was not sure he was good, he had a tendency to whine, not to find words too easy. In the end he drew air in his chest and said, trying to seem calm: "Now, please, Other ... that is, Soris. I know this is not the best time to ask for a favor, but it's ... it's an old promise, that is ... "What is it, General. You do not need to give me explanations, "said the prince, grinning, turning away. The general caught a little courage. "It's about my little girl ... "Do you have a little girl, General? Soris wonders, wondering, but opens up with only one eye. "Oh, what I am so amazed. It's normal. He was just married and he ... " He justifies it, closing his eye again, and relaxing. Add to a Just: "I did not know. That stunned eye had been enough to cut off the general's breath. He stumbled into himself, where there was a big whip between what was moral for him and what he had to do. â € œYeah ... Well, yeah. Something like that ... Finally, what I wanted to ask is if I can get her here in the palace to live with me because ... "Certainly, yes, no problem," said Soris, jerkily, in his final moments of resistance to his death. How old does it have? He wonders, from automatic politeness. The general pulses again. He does not know the exact age. He did not take account of such details about her, he - the man with all the other worries on his head. Stressed, he began to calculate in particular: "Eight years ago, when I was ... Soris, in all his numbness, you hear him. He said asleep: "Aha, eight years so ... to live ... You can bring her, no pro ... The general turned toward him, his heart trembling in his chest. Soris was already sleeping with his mouth open. A moment later, a hand slips down from the couch. Waltario retires ugly: "I see that it was simpler than I expected." He's coming to the prince. He stared at him with a loaded book. He wants an agreement received under such conditions not quite certain, but he took it seriously. "An agreement is an agreement. I hope to forgive me that I have been wearing you ... â €? He picks up his hand on the floor and cares carefully on his body. She clutched at her with a blanket of what she was walking through a nearby closet, breathing once, as if it was a big obstacle, and then she left her workshop and went to Selunia to give him the good news. * Selunia had walked for a while around the transportation car, analyzing the palace courtyard, from the sand-colored stone pavement, to the towering towers above. It goes back inside, for fear of being questioned by strangers. Everyone in there was concerned about something. She could have drawn attention to her by walking around the courtyard, and that certainly was not what she wanted now, when she was just masked like soldier. A few moments later, he saw the general leave the palace. It's just down the front row of stairs, that it's done by two officers. He seemed to have something urgent to discuss with him. After a relatively brief discussion, the two run away, and the general came to the hurry. Selunia, fearing that something had happened, went out in his turn. What is it? She asks her. "Oh, no, do not worry. It's a defect in the external surveillance system, "he said calmly, although he was blown away by what he heard earlier. "Can I help you with something? she insists without hope. "No, no, you are standing quietly. Come with me to take your luggage and get you into the room I prepared for you. We got Soris's agreement, so you can come in without any problem. Selunia followed him cheerfully, thinking that her name had been mentioned before the princess, who may have woken up some memories of him. Over a quarter of an hour, helped by the general, she puts her luggage in a small room on the ground floor of the palace. It was a simple, solid wooden floor, white walls, little furniture, strictly utilitarian: one person's bed, one king-size bed, one office, two chairs and a nightstand. After the closed smell, it could be deduced that lately he had been inhabited by no one. "In the room you have a personal bath," Waltario said, pointing to a door on the left wall. Now I have to go. Make yourself comfortable here and please do not come out until I come. Do you understand? "Yes, of course," she admitted quickly, observing that he was very grateful and with a concentrated mind elsewhere. The general left the room in a moment. Turn away. "I hope I do not go too long. I do not want to stay this day alone in this room when it's quite visited in the palace. " He put his helmet down from his head and put himself in the luggage. * Soris suddenly woke up from sleep. â € œAh, did I sleep? â € ?? He is getting upright on the couch. The clock on the wall indicates almost at three o'clock in the afternoon. "Pfff, let's just not sleep too much." Leave the ucoe smoothly and smooth the suit. He passed his hand a few times, then left the shop vigorously. CHAPTER 5 Time passed quickly, passing the day on the road. Selunia, bored, stood on her back on her new bed. He had gone almost all the excitement he had come to here. The General had visited her fugitive once, almost two hours before, to bring him a packet and to say again that he was coming back later. "The party went in prison. Great! Â € ?? she thinks she reopens a book taken from the White Fortress. "I hope I do not mind that for the next few days. I generally understand that I'm not a priority for him here, but I hope he will understand me too when I get out of this room and let him I'm running on Soris without his mediation. I prefer to work with no rank at White Fortress than to stay here. " It was night. All the workers gradually retreated to their places. The night patrol began to make its turn, loud around the palace and across the yard, while the rest of the servants were ending their last daily activities. Soris closes his office assignments by arranging a stack of files, which he then puts in a closet. The whole population has settled after daytime work. Only Waltario with a group of soldiers did not join their posts in the palace, and only Selunia quietly did not want to hear now. Annoyance, already practicing the creation of energy globes with her special gloves. "I have to change my dexterity." He focused on the golden, transparent energy that rhymed between her palms. "Today's day is like you've lost ..." Somewhere, at a lateral edge of the palace garden, close to the surrounding wall, a crowd of impassioned souls stood hidden among the hedges of the hedge. Vittria, together with her barbarian comrades, watched with interest all the way out of the yard. Leido has completed his equipment with a metallic, barbed metal armor on his massive arms and with a big badge, illustrating a head of a lion - a distinction Top among all the other members. He said with satisfaction: "I told you I am very unprepared. After the official end of the war, two weeks ago, they just do not expect to be attacked. Now that their general is gone, let him not even patrol the yard well. How well it seems to me that I took advantage of that bullshit in my Nordic surveillance system. We had only to aggravate a little defect in the tower, making it seem accidental and ready, I got rid of Waltario from the palace! Hehe, what does he think he is only expecting? "Mr. Leido, I notice that you dislike Mr. General Waltario, Vittria provokes him, and he smiles. I hope you're not afraid of him. "Team ?!" Leido indignantly. Heh! What are you talking about? Waltario is nobody. I could take it out of a shot. Be in peace, Vittria. I'm just expecting him to take his place after we conquer this castle. - Do you want to be general? She asks her as surprised. "Well, I'm already, if I'm thinking better. Who trained his nations to fight well? He rhetorically asks, putting his hands in his head. All others are taking it for granted. Even their small organization was hierarchized by competencies. Bardan, the uncle of Vittria, was the supreme master, the initiator of the grouping. His son, Fulgerus - who had gone away with his father - was about to make up his mind, and Master Leido, the general, took care to prepare them to fight the other members - the soldiers their. Vittria occupies an important position among them because of her magical powers. She did not have a certain title, most of whom were pleased to describe her as the "supporter" of their own. Vittria walks smoothly through the hedge, closer to the palace. He stared with an eagle attention in the surroundings. Suddenly, exclaims exalted: â € "Ah! Here's the prince! It's up there on the terrace! Ah, what's my heart? Leido, always annoyed by this admiration of "fabulous" of Vittria for Soris, she came to love her, - Leave that! Are you ready to make the spell or not? "Yes, of course I am," she answered, looking at him with the tail of his eye, disturbed by his inappropriate intervention. But you have placed the stones â € œXinâ €? how did I tell you? - Yes. I put them all four. One in every cardinal point around the backyard. Come on! What are you up to? Vittria turned irritated. - But what are you waiting for? I have to get upstairs on the terrace so I can make the spell! Leido looked at her unbelievingly. Does not it actually seek a reason to approach the prince? She adds: What do you think of me? I have to stay as central as possible between those stones. Help me sneak up there. Be on the stage to distract the soldiers' attention. "Hmmm, all right," Leido said flatly, thinking quickly of a plan. He gulped the thick thrust, then said, â € œWhat are the lines of calmness tonight, I say you can try to sneak up there. We'll be on guard: as somebody observes you, we'll sneak it. Their mischief if they notice you ... Look! Prepare to go now! After four, you have a few seconds to run up to that garden in the front of the terrace, and hide behind a tree. That's where you handle yourself. Up to the terrace there will be no more. But how do you get to work, do you? Do not waste your time. â € "Yes, bineÃ®nÈ> understood, Ã®i tÄƒie it's fast. Confidently, then prepare to get out of the way. Up on the dimly lit terrace, Soris climbed onto the railing. He stood straight, his legs wide, and his arms spread lightly on the body. He gazed fascinatingly at the brilliant spectacle offered by the multitude of stars that weighed the black sky. The cool air passed in line additions alongside him, calming his troubled soul from both the events of the day and the heavy memories of the last five years. She wished now, more than the day, to sit with her eyes staring to heaven, to relax, to break away from his identity, to feel how the park began to levitate and to is approaching, at last, with those cheerful lights. His mind was far from the terrestrial world. A tree pronounced from the leaves of the park's trees awakened him from the reverie. He suddenly looked down at the garden. With this spontaneous miracle, he is only slightly out of balance. For fear of falling, he gets down quickly. "Oh, I think we've been here a bit too long. It was just what it was. I should take more care. But what was that web? " He bends prominently in front of him, leaning back in his hand to explore the park. Obviously, Vittria had been the one who had caused that noise: a sudden, imperfect graft, made hurriedly over the hornbeam, surrounding the garden. Hidden behind a tree now, she was too happy to have drawn Soris's attention. She was stressed. In the meanwhile, she came up with the idea of making a wave of air with her scepter, which would produce a similar noise, hoping that it would be a lie to believe that it was just wind. Soris was quite calm. There was nothing to blame, no attack; only his vigilance, instinctively after all these struggles, had made him look in that direction. The wind created by Vittria passed, and, after a few moments, he simply concluded: "It was a cat." He leaned back in a cubicle on the railing with a hand under the barbeque, resuming the contemplation of nature, and listening to the constant cricket of the crickets. Vittria Ã®l privea de jos, cu sufletul la gurÄƒ. Printre ramurile copacului sub care stÄƒtea, observÄƒ cÄƒ prinÈ›ul Ã®È™i luase atenÈ›ia dinspre parc. RÄƒsuflÄƒ uÈ™uratÄƒ, apoi Ã®È™i fÄƒcu drum prin desiÈ™ul de flori È™i arbuÈ™ti cÄƒutÃ¢nd sÄƒ se apropie de corpul de clÄƒdire deasupra cÄƒruia stÄƒtea terasa. Umbla meticuloasÄƒ, cu grijÄƒ sporitÄƒ, ca sÄƒ nu strice â€žsurprizaâ€ Ã®n vreun fel. Ea vedea, Ã®n toatÄƒ aceastÄƒ treabÄƒ, o oportunitate venitÄƒ din ceruri ca ea sÄƒ-l Ã®ntÃ¢lneascÄƒ pe Soris â€“ bÄƒiatul ei din poveÈ™ti. Nu era atÃ¢t de interesatÄƒ de misiune, cÃ¢t era de aceastÄƒ Ã®ntÃ¢lnire â€žÃ®n sfÃ¢rÈ™it, faÈ›Äƒ-n faÈ›Äƒâ€. De mai bine de doi ani, ea urmÄƒrise cu interes tot ceea ce el fÄƒcea Ã®n afara palatului. Numai atÃ¢t putuse sÄƒ vadÄƒ prin ochiul magic, restul, ceea ce se petrecea Ã®n interiorul clÄƒdirii, rÄƒmÄƒsese un mister pentru ea. ÃŽÈ™i dorea foarte mult sÄƒ-l cunoascÄƒ, sÄƒ-i cucereascÄƒ inima cu farmecele ei feminine, sÄƒ fie iubitul ei. Era maniacÄƒ dupÄƒ el, atÃ¢t pentru cÄƒ-l vÄƒzuse cÃ¢t de loial se È›inuse faÈ›Äƒ de logodna lui, cÃ¢t È™i pentru cÄƒ ea, Ã®n ultima vreme, nu mai avusese parte de vreo relaÈ›ie amoroasÄƒ. De cÃ¢nd acceptase sÄƒ-l ajute pe unchiul ei, Bardan, idilele ei se Ã®mpuÈ›inaserÄƒ considerabil. ÃŽÈ™i amintea cu plÄƒcere iubirile scurte, dar pasionale, pe care le trÄƒise Ã®n satul ei natal, Ã®nsÄƒ dorul de noi experienÈ›e devenise tot mai mare. Trebuia cu orice preÈ› sÄƒ-l aibÄƒ pe Soris Ã®n palmaresul ei. Mai cunoscuse ea tineri Ã®nstÄƒriÈ›i, nobili, Ã®nsÄƒ niciodatÄƒ un prinÈ›. O fascina gÃ¢ndul de a fi cu el, fie È™i numai pentru cÃ¢teva secunde. Pe cÃ¢t de mult Ã®È™i dorea sÄƒ-l atragÄƒ cu frumuseÈ›ea ei, sÄƒ-l facÄƒ s-o doreascÄƒ, pe atÃ¢t de puÈ›in Ã®i pÄƒsa de viaÈ›a lui. È˜tia cÄƒ, odatÄƒ cucerit palatul, Soris urma sÄƒ fie omorÃ¢t, Ã®nsÄƒ aceasta nu o deranja Ã®n vreun fel, cÃ¢t timp ea Ã®È™i atingea scopul: o scurtÄƒ poveste de dragoste pÄƒtimaÈ™Äƒ cu prinÈ›ul Regatului Arid. DimpotrivÄƒ, uciderea lui ulterioarÄƒ, i se pÄƒrea cÄƒ aduce un strop de dramatism picant pentru finalul idilei lor. Oamenii din gruparea ei, care o admirau Ã®n secret, nu-i puteau Ã®nÈ›elege toate aceste gÃ¢nduri nebuneÈ™ti. Ei È™tiau un singur lucru: ea Ã®l place pe prinÈ› â€“ Ã®ncÄƒ un motiv sÄƒ-i doreascÄƒ moartea lui Soris. Vittria se opri Ã®n loc, lipindu-se cu spatele de un perete lateral al corpului de clÄƒdire ce susÈ›inea terasa. DacÄƒ reuÈ™ea sÄƒ se urce, din aceastÄƒ parte, ar fi ajuns, la o anumitÄƒ distanÈ›Äƒ, Ã®n spatele lui Soris È™i apoi l-ar fi putut lua prin surprindere. Nu mai stÄƒtu pe gÃ¢nduri. Se Ã®ntoarse cu faÈ›a spre perete, Ã®È™i Ã®nÄƒlÈ›Äƒ toiagul magic, rosti cÃ¢teva cuvinte secrete Ã®n gÃ¢nd, apoi, ridicÃ¢nd mÃ¢ndrÄƒ privirea Ã®n sus, urcÄƒ levitÃ¢nd pÃ¢nÄƒ pe terasÄƒ. AterizÄƒ silenÈ›ios, aproape imperceptibil. Se lÄƒsÄƒ repede pe vine, de teamÄƒ sÄƒ n-o observe cineva. Cu siguranÈ›Äƒ ar fi putut atrage atenÈ›ia vreunui soldat, la cÃ¢t de viu coloratÄƒ era Ã®mbrÄƒcatÄƒ. Patrula palatului trecu Ã®nsÄƒ cÄƒscÃ¢nd nepÄƒsÄƒtoare, urmÃ¢ndu-È™i traseul fÄƒrÄƒ sÄƒ priveascÄƒ o clipÄƒ Ã®n sus. â€žPerfect!â€ Ã®È™i zise ea mulÈ›umitÄƒ, aÈ›intindu-È™i ochii Ã®n ceafa lui Soris. ÃŽn loc sÄƒ cugete cum sÄƒ-l doboare repede, ea plÄƒnuia cum sÄƒ-l surprindÄƒ mai mult, ca sÄƒ facÄƒ prima lor Ã®ntÃ¢lnire cÃ¢t mai palpitantÄƒ. Voia sÄƒ ajungÄƒ lÃ¢ngÄƒ el, umÄƒr lÃ¢ngÄƒ umÄƒr, fÄƒrÄƒ ca el sÄƒ o perceapÄƒ de dinainte. È˜tia cÄƒ el are simÈ›urile ascuÈ›ite. Dar nu, ea trebuia neapÄƒrat sÄƒ-i lase o impresie puternicÄƒ, de neuitat, aÈ™a cÄƒ face din nou uz de levitaÈ›ie spre a se deplasa spre prinÈ›. Era conÈ™tientÄƒ cÄƒ orice acÈ›iune de tip magic Ã®i consumÄƒ din energie, Ã®nsÄƒ nu-i pÄƒsa cÄƒ riscÄƒ succesul misiunii, cÄƒ face ceva condamnabil de cÄƒtre toatÄƒ gruparea ei; Bardan ar fi putut s-o pedepseascÄƒ sever chiar, Ã®nsÄƒ ea nu voia decÃ¢t sÄƒ trÄƒiascÄƒ clipa. Soris savura cu ochii Ã®nchiÈ™i, Ã®n dulcea lui melancolie, prospeÈ›imea nopÈ›ii È™i cÃ¢ntecul greierilor, nebÄƒnuind cÄƒ cineva se apropia ameninÈ›Äƒtor de el. â€žAl meu eÈ™ti!â€ gÃ¢ndi Vittria, cu ochi sclipitori ca ai unui lup flÄƒmÃ¢nd. Soris deschise ochii brusc, imediat ce ea atinse pÄƒmÃ¢ntul, la un pas Ã®n spatele lui. DÄƒdu sÄƒ se rÄƒsuceascÄƒ Ã®n loc, Ã®nsÄƒ, cu un salt scurt, Vittria se Ã®nghionti Ã®n umÄƒrul lui È™i-i cuprinse chipul cu o mÃ¢nÄƒ, spre a-i conduce privirea spre a ei. Soris tresÄƒri speriat Ã®napoi, alungÃ¢ndu-i mÃ¢na. StrigÄƒ: â€“ Hei, ia mÃ¢na! Cine eÈ™ti? Planul Vittriei fu un real succes: Soris fusese foarte surprins de apariÈ›ia ei O privi zÄƒpÄƒcit timp de trei secunde, Ã®ncercÃ¢nd sÄƒ Ã®nÈ›eleagÄƒ ce-i cu aceastÄƒ fiinÈ›Äƒ bizarÄƒ, apÄƒrutÄƒ din neant lÃ¢ngÄƒ el. â€“ BunÄƒ seara, AlteÈ›Äƒ! zise ea cu un ton ironic. Se bucura sÄƒ-l vadÄƒ pe prinÈ› cum o priveÈ™te uluit, precum un prÄƒdÄƒtor care-È™i vede prada tremurÃ¢nd de fricÄƒ. Se simÈ›ea stÄƒpÃ¢nÄƒ pe situaÈ›ie. ÃŽÈ™i sprijini greutatea pe un picior, luÃ¢nd o poziÈ›ie care sÄƒ-i accentueze cel mai bine formele rotunde. Apoi, aruncÃ¢ndu-i cele mai seducÄƒtoare priviri È™i zÃ¢mbete exersate de-o viaÈ›Äƒ, Ã®i spuse: â€“ Soris, Ã®mi pare aÈ™a de bine sÄƒ te cunosc Ã®n persoanÄƒ. Dac-ai È™tii de cÃ¢t timp te urmÄƒresc È™i visez la tine... Soris, deÈ™i Ã®ncÄƒ nu-È™i putea justifica apariÈ›ia ei imperceptibilÄƒ, Ã®È™i reveni din nÄƒucealÄƒ. Se Ã®ncruntÄƒ uÈ™or la ea. LuÃ¢nd o posturÄƒ de apÄƒrare, ca Ã®n faÈ›a unui duÈ™man feroce, o Ã®ntrebÄƒ cu voce eroicÄƒ: â€“ Ce-i cu tine aici? Te-a trimis cumva tata sÄƒ mÄƒ seduci? Eu nu sunt ca el. ÃŽÈ›i spun de pe acum: n-ai nicio È™ansÄƒ, aÈ™a cÄƒ renunÈ›Äƒ! Vittria pufni Ã®n rÃ¢s, tare. Soris Ã®È™i menÈ›inu garda sus: â€žNu-l Ã®nÈ›eleg pe tata de ce trimite mereu tot felul de femei dupÄƒ mine. I-am spus de atÃ¢tea ori cÄƒ nu-s obsedat dupÄƒ aÈ™a ceva, Ã®nsÄƒ vÄƒd cÄƒ el tot insistÄƒ. ÃŽncearcÄƒ sÄƒ mÄƒ facÄƒ sÄƒ devin ca el. Dar eu nu voi face asta niciodatÄƒ! Am promis cÄƒ nu mÄƒ voi abate, sub nicio formÄƒ, de la logodnÄƒ È™i cÄƒ voi distruge proasta reputaÈ›ie de soÈ›i Ã®nÈ™elÄƒtori â€“ purtatÄƒ de neamul meu de atÃ¢tea generaÈ›ii la rÃ¢nd. Nicio femeie decentÄƒ nu meritÄƒ sÄƒ ducÄƒ o cÄƒsnicie dificilÄƒ ca a mamei. È˜i oricum, ce-i cu tipa asta ciudatÄƒ? Ai zice cÄƒ lucreazÄƒ la circ dupÄƒ cum e Ã®mbrÄƒcatÄƒ. Cine È™tie ce truc a folosit de a venit aÈ™a, pe furiÈ™. Ce idei nÄƒstruÈ™nice mai are È™i tata...â€ Vittria se potoli din rÃ¢s, revenind la un zÃ¢mbet ghiduÈ™. â€“ Vai, observ cÄƒ eÈ™ti glumeÈ›, zise ea sorbindu-l din priviri. ÃŽmi place asta la tine, hihihi! DÄƒ-mi voie sÄƒ mÄƒ prezint: Vittria mÄƒ numesc. Èšine bine minte numele meu. ÃŽn viitorul apropiat o sÄƒ devenim tare cunoscuÈ›i... Soris se uitÄƒ la ea, cu suspiciune. ÃŽÈ™i detensionÄƒ pumnii Ã®ncleÈ™taÈ›i. PÃ¢nÄƒ la urmÄƒ, de ce ar fi acordat el atÃ¢ta atenÈ›ie unei curtezane, cÃ¢nd putea pur È™i simplu sÄƒ pÄƒrÄƒseascÄƒ terasa? Reveni la o poziÈ›ie normalÄƒ È™i-i spuse scurt: â€“ Nu am niciun interes sÄƒ te cunosc. CautÄƒ pe altcineva! È˜i, spre marea uimire a Vittriei, Soris dÄƒdu sÄƒ plece indiferent. Chiar Ã®n acel moment Ã®nsÄƒ, un foÈ™net puternic se auzi Ã®n parc. Soris abia acum Ã®ncepu sÄƒ bÄƒnuiascÄƒ un atac secret. Vittria ghici cÄƒ zgomotul era al bÄƒrbaÈ›ilor din gruparea ei â€“ bardanii. ÃŽn doar cÃ¢teva minute urmau sÄƒ urce È™i ei sus, s-o verifice dacÄƒ respectÄƒ planul. â€žAh! Nu puteau sÄƒ mai aÈ™tepte È™i ei un pic?â€ gÃ¢ndi ea supÄƒratÄƒ, trezindu-se la realitate. LÄƒsÄƒ de o parte rolul de tÃ¢nÄƒrÄƒ Ã®ndrÄƒgostitÄƒ È™i Ã®l preluÄƒ pe cel de vrÄƒjitoare Ã®ntunecatÄƒ. Se dÄƒdu cÃ¢È›iva paÈ™i Ã®napoi. ÃŽÈ™i Ã®nÄƒlÈ›Äƒ hotÄƒrÃ¢tÄƒ toiagul Ã®n aer, fÄƒcÃ¢nd globul de cristal din vÃ¢rf sÄƒ se aprindÄƒ. Soris se uitÄƒ la ea, nedumerit: â€žCe vrea sÄƒ facÄƒ acum? SÄƒ scoatÄƒ un iepure sau un porumbel din neant? Ceva e Ã®n neregulÄƒ de Ã®ncearcÄƒ atÃ¢t de mult sÄƒ-mi distragÄƒ atenÈ›ia.â€ Se aplecÄƒ sÄƒ cerceteze parcul de jos. ObservÄƒ cu groazÄƒ cum o ceatÄƒ de oameni, cu aspect nefiresc pentru continentul sÄƒu, miÈ™unau prin frunziÈ™. ÃŽn zadar Ã®ncercau ei sÄƒ-È™i ascundÄƒ corpurile groteÈ™ti È™i butucÄƒnoase pe sub copaci. â€žSuntem atacaÈ›i!â€ Ã®È™i zise el intrÃ¢nd Ã®n stare de alertÄƒ. Ar fi vrut sÄƒ-È™i strige soldaÈ›ii, Ã®nsÄƒ niciunul nu trecea acum prin zonÄƒ. Iar el era total nepregÄƒtit â€“ nicio armÄƒ, scut sau instrument de alarmÄƒ. Trebuia sÄƒ acÈ›ioneze rapid, sÄƒ-i alerteze cumva pe cei din palat, Ã®nainte ca intruÈ™ii sÄƒ avanseze prea mult. Se rÄƒsuci brusc Ã®n loc. O luminÄƒ puternicÄƒ Ã®l orbi temporar, fÄƒcÃ¢ndu-l sÄƒ se dea mulÈ›i paÈ™i Ã®napoi, Ã®n timp ce, cu un braÈ›, Ã®È™i acoperi ochii. â€žCe naiba?â€ Ã®njurÄƒ el Ã®n gÃ¢nd, obiÈ™nuindu-se treptat cu fluxul luminos. ÃŽncercÄƒ sÄƒ descifreze ce se Ã®ntÃ¢mpla. RÄƒmÃ¢ne mut de uimire È™i fricÄƒ. Fata pe care el o credea o simplÄƒ acrobatÄƒ cu atitudine uÈ™uraticÄƒ, levita acum Ã®n aer, la un metru de podea, Ã®nconjuratÄƒ de o aurÄƒ roÈ™iaticÄƒ ce juca, Ã®n formÄƒ È™i Ã®n lumini, asemenea unei vÄƒpÄƒi uriaÈ™e. Toiagul, pe care Ã®l È›inea Ã®n mÃ¢nÄƒ, era traversat intermitent de scurte dÃ¢re, sclipitoare ca un fulger. Un vÃ¢nt puternic Ã®ncepu sÄƒ se adune Ã®n jurul ei formÃ¢nd un vÃ¢rtej mare. Pe chipul ei se Ã®ntrezÄƒreau vine negre ce i se rÄƒspÃ¢ndeau gradual pe gÃ¢t, pe piept È™i pe mÃ¢ini. PÃ¢nÄƒ È™i ochii Ã®i fuseserÄƒ acoperiÈ›i cu astfel de vine, fÄƒcÃ¢ndu-i sÄƒ parÄƒ Ã®ntunecaÈ›i cu totul. Devenise o altÄƒ fiinÈ›Äƒ, una maleficÄƒ, demonicÄƒ, gata sÄƒ distrugÄƒ pe oricine È™i orice. Soris Ã®ncremeni de fricÄƒ. Se uitÄƒ la ea gurÄƒ-cascÄƒ, fÄƒrÄƒ a mai putea gÃ¢ndi nimic pentru cÃ¢teva secunde. De-a lungul anilor tumultuoÈ™i, el se Ã®nvÄƒÈ›ase sÄƒ facÄƒ faÈ›Äƒ situaÈ›iilor neprevÄƒzute, Ã®nsÄƒ aceasta era o situaÈ›ie inimaginabilÄƒ, ce depÄƒÈ™ea raÈ›iunea umanÄƒ. Nimeni din regat sau de pe Ã®ntreg continentul, n-ar fi putut concepe sÄƒ mÄƒrturiseascÄƒ aÈ™a ceva Ã®n realitate. Mintea sa pur È™i simplu Ã®i paralizÄƒ. ÃŽncepu sÄƒ respire trepidat. BÄƒtÄƒile inimii i se accelerarÄƒ Ã®ntr-un ritm nebun, pe care el Ã®nsÄƒ nu-l putea conÈ™tientiza. Doar tremurul uÈ™or al membrelor sale Ã®l fÄƒcu sÄƒ se trezeascÄƒ din teribila amorÈ›ealÄƒ. â€žOare am din nou un coÈ™mar?â€ reuÈ™i el sÄƒ se Ã®ntrebe, Ã®nghiÈ›ind cu greu Ã®n sec. I se uscase gura de teamÄƒ. â€žTrebuie sÄƒ fug!â€ realizÄƒ el Ã®n clipa urmÄƒtoare, dÃ¢nd sÄƒ plece. Abia reuÈ™i sÄƒ se urneascÄƒ din loc cu paÈ™i Ã®ncurcaÈ›i, cÄƒ È™i auzi un pocnet puternic, ca de tunet. ÃŽn acel moment globul Vittriei tocmai eliberÄƒ o undÄƒ mare, roÈ™iaticÄƒ, expansivÄƒ, care trecu prin aer, prin el, prin clÄƒdire È™i se rÄƒspÃ¢ndi Ã®n toatÄƒ curtea. DupÄƒ aceasta, o serie de alte astfel de unde continuarÄƒ sÄƒ aparÄƒ urmÃ¢nd acelaÈ™i traseu. CÃ¢ntecul greierilor È™i zgomotul oricÄƒrei alte vietÄƒÈ›i se oprirÄƒ pe datÄƒ. Soris simÈ›i cum picioarele i se Ã®ngreunarÄƒ considerabil, de parcÄƒ cineva i le-ar fi Ã®nfÄƒÈ™urat cu lanÈ›uri groase de fier. ÃŽncercÄƒ din rÄƒsputeri sÄƒ mai facÄƒ un pas, Ã®nsÄƒ greutatea invizibilÄƒ i se urcÄƒ È™i pe braÈ›e fÄƒcÃ¢ndu-l sÄƒ se dezechilibreze È™i sÄƒ pice Ã®ntr-o parte. Se izbi cu putere de pÄƒmÃ¢nt cu umÄƒrul nevindecat. Icni de durere, strÃ¢ngÃ¢ndu-È™i ochii, apoi se rÄƒsuci, cu trudÄƒ, pe spate. Dar suferinÈ›a lui nu se sfÃ¢rÈ™ea aici. ÃŽncetul cu Ã®ncetul, greutatea i se adunÄƒ È™i pe piept, fÄƒcÃ¢ndu-i respiraÈ›ia dificilÄƒ. Inexplicabil, ceva Ã®i apÄƒsa toracele, Ã®mpiedicÃ¢ndu-l sÄƒ mai respire. ÃŽnfiorat, deschise gura vrÃ¢nd sÄƒ tragÄƒ mai mult aer, Ã®nsÄƒ parcÄƒ È™i aerul se schimbase, devenise sufocant. ÃŽn curÃ¢nd, vederea i se Ã®nceÈ›oÈ™Äƒ odatÄƒ cu cunoÈ™tinÈ›a. â€žOare... oare am sÄƒ mor?â€ se Ã®ntrebÄƒ el rÄƒsuflÃ¢nd adÃ¢nc. â€žNu, nu... probabil cÄƒ e doar un alt coÈ™mar. Trebuie sÄƒ scap. Trebuie... sÄƒ apÄƒr... regatul...â€, fu ultimul sÄƒu gÃ¢nd, cu care intrÄƒ Ã®n stare de inconÈ™tienÈ›Äƒ. ÃŽÈ™i lÄƒsÄƒ pleoapele obosite sÄƒ-i acopere ochii. RenunÈ›Äƒ sÄƒ se mai opunÄƒ. Corpul i se destinse complet. Vittria se Ã®nvÃ¢rti o datÄƒ Ã®n aer, aura misterioasÄƒ, roÈ™iaticÄƒ, urmÃ¢ndu-i miÈ™carea. Un val de curent negru Ã®i parcurse tot trupul, de sus pÃ¢nÄƒ jos È™i invers, strÃ¢ngÃ¢ndu-se, apoi, Ã®n marele glob de cristal. Emite o ultimÄƒ undÄƒ, de data aceasta, neagrÄƒ. Aceasta se rÄƒsfrÃ¢nse, ca un foc de artificii, Ã®n cÃ¢teva clipe, peste Ã®ntreaga curte a palatului. PicÄƒ, formÃ¢nd o cupolÄƒ, ca o ploaie deasÄƒ de particule fine, care dispÄƒru imediat ce atinse pÄƒmÃ¢ntul. Vraja se Ã®ncheia aici. ToatÄƒ aura magicÄƒ din jurul Vittriei se retrase Ã®n toiag. VÃ¢rtejul de vÃ¢nt se spulberÄƒ spontan. Globul de cristal se stinse Ã®ncet. Vittria aterizÄƒ uÈ™or pe podeaua de piatrÄƒ È™lefuitÄƒ a terasei. Privi Ã®n jur mulÈ›umitÄƒ. ÃŽntreg locul fusese redus la tÄƒcere deplinÄƒ. Niciun soldat nu mai miÈ™ca, niciun greier sau altÄƒ gÃ¢zÄƒ nu se mai auzea, toatÄƒ lumea parcÄƒ intrase Ã®ntr-un somn adÃ¢nc, ca moartÄƒ. Numai bardanii continuau sÄƒ miÈ™une prin parc, o parte pregÄƒtindu-se sÄƒ urce cu funii pe terasÄƒ, iar cealaltÄƒ parte Ã®ndreptÃ¢ndu-se, Ã®n fugÄƒ, spre intrarea Ã®n palat. Nimic nu le mai stÄƒtea acum Ã®n cale. Peste tot pe unde cÄƒlcau, soldaÈ›ii, slujitorii, castelanii, toÈ›i oamenii palatului stÄƒteau Ã®ntinÈ™i pe jos, ca seceraÈ›i de o forÈ›Äƒ invizibilÄƒ, de o molimÄƒ necruÈ›Äƒtoare. Curtea regalÄƒ fusese cuceritÄƒ fÄƒrÄƒ niciun efort din partea bardanilor care alergau acum voioÈ™i pe treptele de la intrare. PaÈ™ii lor rÄƒsunau Ã®n liniÈ™tea mortuarÄƒ, ca Ã®ntr-o peÈ™terÄƒ. Vittria, slÄƒbitÄƒ de puteri, Ã®n urma vrÄƒjii laborioase, Ã®nsÄƒ totodatÄƒ plinÄƒ de satisfacÈ›ie, se Ã®ntoarse spre trofeul ei: Soris. Se uitÄƒ la el compÄƒtimitor: â€žBietul de el! A avut mai mult de suferit dacÄƒ a stat aÈ™a de aproape de mine. CeilalÈ›i cred cÄƒ au picat blanÄƒ imediat. Dar las' c-a meritat...â€ Se repezi asupra lui. Se aÈ™ezÄƒ Ã®n genunchi, lÃ¢ngÄƒ el È™i-È™i Ã®ntinse mÃ¢inile peste umerii lui, ca un pÄƒianjen ce-È™i Ã®nconjoarÄƒ prada. Acum era al ei. ÃŽi mÃ¢ngÃ¢ie lin chipul ca È™i cum s-ar fi asigurat cÄƒ e real, nu doar o altÄƒ imagine proiectatÄƒ pe ecranul magic. Atingerea pielii moi È™i calde a feÈ›ei lui o fÄƒcu sÄƒ-È™i arcuiascÄƒ buzele Ã®ntr-un zÃ¢mbet senzual. Soris, tÃ¢nÄƒrul prinÈ› pe care-l venera Ã®n imaginaÈ›ia ei ca pe un exemplar rar de frumuseÈ›e masculinÄƒ, se afla, Ã®n carne È™i oase, Ã®n posesia ei. ÃŽi analizÄƒ Ã®n detaliu, fiecare trÄƒsÄƒturÄƒ a feÈ›ei: È™uviÈ›ele de pÄƒr castaniu-negru rÄƒsfrÃ¢nse graÈ›ios pe fruntea È™i tÃ¢mplele lui, sprÃ¢ncenele simetrice care Ã®i conturau armonios arcadele, pleoapele line mÄƒrginite de cÃ¢te un È™ir de gene scurte È™i negre, nasul drept, conturul ferm al feÈ›ei È™i Ã®n sfÃ¢rÈ™it, buzele lui â€“ o compoziÈ›ie artisticÄƒ perfectÄƒ de arce È™i curbe fine. Vittria nu mai rezistÄƒ tentaÈ›iei: Ã®i cuprinse capul Ã®n mÃ¢ini È™i se aplecÄƒ sÄƒ-l sÄƒrute. CAPITOLUL 6 ÃŽn palat Ã®nsÄƒ, nu absolut toatÄƒ lumea fusese afectatÄƒ de vraja Vittriei. ÃŽn camera ei, acum iluminatÄƒ de un bec simplu din tavan, Selunia era perfect treazÄƒ. Ea continua sÄƒ dea rotocoale prin mica Ã®ncÄƒpere, exersÃ¢nd, de una singurÄƒ, tehnici de atac È™i de protecÈ›ie pentru lupte corp la corp. La un moment dat, merse Ã®ntr-un capÄƒt, Ã®È™i luÄƒ avÃ¢nt È™i sÄƒri cu un picior Ã®ntins Ã®n aer. AterizÄƒ zgomotos pe podeaua din lemn. RÄƒsunetul acestei cÄƒderi Ã®n toatÄƒ camera, urmat de o liniÈ™te de mormÃ¢nt, Ã®i atrase atenÈ›ia Seluniei. RespirÃ¢nd cu gura Ã®ntredeschisÄƒ, agitatÄƒ dupÄƒ lungul antrenament, se uitÄƒ nedumeritÄƒ Ã®n jur. Se concentrÄƒ asupra sunetelor. LiniÈ™te deplinÄƒ. Tot zumzetul creat de freamÄƒtul locuitorilor È™i lucrÄƒtorilor din palat dispÄƒruse subit. â€žCe naiba? ToatÄƒ lumea s-a dus la culcare?â€ se Ã®ntrebÄƒ ea privind spre ceasul de pe perete. Era aproape nouÄƒ seara. Selunia Ã®È™i puse Ã®nciudatÄƒ mÃ¢inile Ã®n È™old. â€žOamenii ÄƒÈ™tia se culcÄƒ aÈ™a de devreme? La noi, la Cetate, abia pe la unsprezece noaptea ne Ã®nchideam Ã®n camerele noastre, unii chiar mai tÃ¢rziu. Iar generalul ce face? A renunÈ›at sÄƒ mÄƒ mai viziteze È™i s-a dus direct la culcare? Nu pot sÄƒ cred aÈ™a ceva! Gata! Eu nu mai stau aici!â€ se hotÄƒrÃ® ea ducÃ¢ndu-se spre uÈ™a camerei. Descuind-o Ã®nsÄƒ, ei Ã®i veni greu sÄƒ o È™i deschidÄƒ. Nu uÈ™a era problema, ci generalul. Nu avea acordul lui. Se puse Ã®n genunchi, trase aer Ã®n piept È™i apÄƒsÄƒ pe clanÈ›Äƒ. ÃŽntredeschise Ã®ncet uÈ™a. Privi prin crÄƒpÄƒturÄƒ. Nu era nimeni. Se Ã®ntoarse, Ã®È™i puse Ã®n grabÄƒ casca, ascunzÃ¢ndu-È™i pÄƒrul sub ea, Ã®È™i aÈ™ezÄƒ mÄƒnuÈ™ile largi, de soldat, peste cele magice, apoi merse È™i scoase capul pe dupÄƒ uÈ™Äƒ. ConstatÄƒ cÄƒ holul era pur È™i simplu pustiu. Slujitorii, de regulÄƒ, nu aveau prea multe de fÄƒcut Ã®n aceastÄƒ zonÄƒ unde se afla ea. I se pÄƒrea totuÈ™i ciudat sÄƒ nu vadÄƒ sau mÄƒcar sÄƒ audÄƒ pe cineva circulÃ¢nd prin apropiere. Ar fi vrut sÄƒ iasÄƒ cu totul, Ã®nsÄƒ pragul uÈ™ii devenise o barierÄƒ invizibilÄƒ, pe care se rulau necontenit interdicÈ›iile generalului. ÃŽnchise uÈ™a la loc, presÃ¢ndu-È™i buzele, nehotÄƒrÃ¢tÄƒ. Se Ã®ntoarse È™i pÄƒÈ™i repede spre unica fereastrÄƒ a camerei. Din interior, prin geam, nu putea vedea decÃ¢t o bucatÄƒ de potecÄƒ È™i, Ã®n spatele ei, un È™ir de copaci È™i arbuÈ™ti ai grÄƒdinii. OftÄƒ. Avea o presimÈ›ire rea. Instinctiv Ã®È™i duse mÃ¢inile la piept. SimÈ›i furnicÄƒturi Ã®n palme. ÃŽngrijoratÄƒ Ã®È™i scoase cu greu, prin costumul de soldat, talismanul ce-l purta la gÃ¢t. Era un obiect preÈ›ios primit de la Cetatea AlbÄƒ pentru a-i asigura o protecÈ›ie de bazÄƒ Ã®n faÈ›a atacurilor vrÄƒjitoreÈ™ti. ToÈ›i membrii cetÄƒÈ›ii, indiferent de rang, aveau grijÄƒ sÄƒ poarte aÈ™a ceva permanent. ReuÈ™ind sÄƒ scoatÄƒ talismanul, ea Ã®l privi cu atenÈ›ie. Piatra de cristal devenise violet. Era un semn clar de vrajÄƒ. ÃŽn mod normal, cristalul era incolor, Ã®nsÄƒ, Ã®n preajma unui atac magic, el se colora Ã®n conformitate cu gravitatea situaÈ›iei. â€žO vrajÄƒ?! Dar cum e posibil sÄƒ fie aÈ™a ceva aici?â€ se Ã®ntrebÄƒ ea uimitÄƒ. â€žCuloarea violet, de obicei, anunÈ›Äƒ un cÃ¢mp energetic de naturÄƒ dubioasÄƒ. Dar ce sÄƒ caute aici? E tare ciudat, la fel ca liniÈ™tea asta bizarÄƒ. Trebuie sÄƒ verific neapÄƒrat! DacÄƒ Soris e Ã®n primejdie?â€ * Sus, pe terasÄƒ, Vittria Ã®È™i apropiase foarte mult buzele de cele ale lui Soris. DorinÈ›a o atrÄƒgea ca un magnet de el. DeodatÄƒ Ã®nsÄƒ, un gÃ¢nd o determinÄƒ sÄƒ deschidÄƒ ochii È™i sÄƒ se retragÄƒ. â€žAr putea fi primul nostru sÄƒrut, dar la ce bun dacÄƒ el nu e treaz? Primul sÄƒrut trebuie sÄƒ fie ceva memorabil pentru ambii parteneri. AÈ™a, pot sÄƒ-l sÄƒrut eu cÃ¢t vreau È™i cÃ¢nd e mort. Dar nu, eu vreau ca primul sÄƒrut sÄƒ fie acea senzaÈ›ie explozivÄƒ pe care numai iubirea o poate da. AÈ™ vrea sÄƒ-l surprind astfel, Ã®ncÄƒ o datÄƒ, sÄƒ-l vÄƒd cum se zbate mai Ã®ntÃ¢i sÄƒ scape din mreaja mea, de sub presiunea sÄƒrutului meu, iar apoi cum renunÈ›Äƒ sÄƒ se mai opunÄƒ È™i se abandoneazÄƒ stÄƒpÃ¢nirii dulci a amorului nostru interzis. Ce-ar fi sÄƒ-l trezesc un pic?â€ Ã®È™i zise ea, plimbÃ¢ndu-È™i degetele de pe faÈ›a lui pÃ¢nÄƒ pe gÃ¢t. Chiar Ã®n acel moment, spre ghinionul ei, pe terasÄƒ, Ã®È™i fÄƒcurÄƒ apariÈ›ia, pe rÃ¢nd, bardanii. AterizarÄƒ unul cÃ¢te unul, cu cÄƒzÄƒturi zgomotoase, Ã®nsoÈ›ite de zornÄƒitul decoraÈ›iunilor metalice de pe costumele lor. Cum o observarÄƒ, toÈ›i, alÄƒturi de Leido, se apropiarÄƒ Ã®n grabÄƒ de ea. â€“ Vittria! Ce faci? o Ã®ntrebÄƒ repede Leido. Vittria se ridicÄƒ Ã®ncet, luÃ¢ndu-È™i cu dezamÄƒgire mÃ¢inile de pe prinÈ›. RÄƒspunse Ã®ntr-o doarÄƒ: â€“ MÄƒ asiguram cÄƒ doarme... Un bardan se apropie de Soris È™i-i dÄƒdu un È™ut Ã®ntr-o coapsÄƒ, zicÃ¢nd amuzat: â€“ Uite-aÈ™a te asiguri cel mai bine! Ha-ha-ha! Bardanii se puserÄƒ pe rÃ¢s. Vittria Ã®i privea cu dispreÈ›. ExtaziaÈ›i sÄƒ-l vadÄƒ pe prinÈ› la pÄƒmÃ¢nt, doi dintre ei â€“ ceva mai cocoÈ™aÈ›i decÃ¢t restul â€“ venirÄƒ È™i ei, lÃ¢ngÄƒ el, cu scopul de a-l lovi. â€“ Ei-ei! tresÄƒri furioasÄƒ Vittria, oprindu-i. Nu-i atingeÈ›i voi trupul perfect, bestiilor! Cei doi Ã®È™i Ã®ntoarserÄƒ nedumeriÈ›i capul spre ea. Unul Ã®i zise rÃ¢zÃ¢nd: â€“ Ce trup perfect? Tu numeÈ™ti slÄƒbÄƒnogul Äƒsta, perfect? Nu vezi cum atÃ¢rnÄƒ hainele pe el? Ä‚sta-i trup scheletic, nu perfect! Ha-ha-ha! ToÈ›i rÃ¢serÄƒ aprobator; pÃ¢nÄƒ È™i Leido zÃ¢mbi amuzat â€“ el care Ã®ncerca, de obicei, sÄƒ se È›inÄƒ mai demn faÈ›Äƒ de restul. Vittria se uitÄƒ la ei scÃ¢rbitÄƒ. Le strigÄƒ: â€“ Ce sÄƒ Ã®nÈ›elegeÈ›i voi, butoaielor? El are un corp atletic, Ã®nalt, bine proporÈ›ionat. E un adevÄƒrat adonis, nu ca voi, niÈ™te grÄƒmezi de carne bolovÄƒnoasÄƒ! Bardanii se potolirÄƒ din rÃ¢s. Se uitarÄƒ la ea oftÃ¢nd. ÃŽi Ã®ntrista cÄƒ nu avea nicio apreciere pentru ei. â€“ HaideÈ›i sÄƒ nu mai pierdem vremea cu prostii! interveni Leido serios. LuaÈ›i-l pe prinÈ› de aici È™i sÄƒ mergem Ã®n sala de la intrare, unde probabil cÄƒ ceilalÈ›i deja ne aÈ™teaptÄƒ cu restul familiei regale. Unul cu atitudine distratÄƒ se duse, Ã®l apucÄƒ pe prinÈ› de picioare È™i Ã®ncepu sÄƒ meargÄƒ tÃ¢rÈ™Ã¢indu-l dupÄƒ el. Abia fÄƒcu cÃ¢È›iva paÈ™i, cÄƒ È™i fu lovit zdravÄƒn cu toiagul Ã®n burtÄƒ, de cÄƒtre Vittria. â€“ Idiotule! Ai grijÄƒ! Am nevoie de corpul lui Ã®n stare perfectÄƒ, nu rÄƒnit de neghiobia ta! CarÄƒ-l frumos pe spatele tÄƒu, cÄƒ doar d-aia eÈ™ti tu aÈ™a de bivol. FÄƒ cum Ã®È›i zic, dacÄƒ nu vrei sÄƒ te fac scrum! Ã®l ameninÈ›Äƒ ea furioasÄƒ, aprinzÃ¢ndu-È™i, pentru o clipÄƒ, globul, ca sÄƒ-l sperie. ÃŽnfricoÈ™at, bardanul Ã®l ridicÄƒ delicat pe Soris, de jos, ajutat de Ã®ncÄƒ doi; Ã®l sui pe spatele lui È™i porni a merge spre interiorul palatului Ã®mpreunÄƒ cu tot alaiul. * Selunia deschise cu greu geamul Ã®nÈ›epenit din balamale â€“ semn cÄƒ nu mai fusese utilizat de foarte mult timp. Se aplecÄƒ sÄƒ se uite afarÄƒ. RÄƒcoarea nopÈ›ii fu primul lucru pe care-l percepu. â€žAh, e destul de frig aici, noaptea. Ce bine cÄƒ acest costum de soldat e suficient de gros. È˜i cÃ¢nd mÄƒ gÃ¢ndesc cÄƒ, pe timpul zilei, mÄƒ vÄƒitam de cÄƒldurÄƒ... Dar ce liniÈ™te Ã®nfiorÄƒtoare!â€ Privi Ã®n stÃ¢nga. Nu vedea decÃ¢t peretele exterior al palatului, poteca lungÄƒ din juru-i, un stÃ¢lp scund, de iluminat È™i bineÃ®nÈ›eles, grÄƒdina. ÃŽn dreapta, aceeaÈ™i priveliÈ™te, numai cÄƒ, pe dupÄƒ un copac, la cÃ¢È›iva metri de ea, se zÄƒrea ceva ce pÄƒreau a fi cizmele unui soldat, ca È™i cum cineva ar fi stat Ã®ntins pe spate, acolo. Selunia Ã®i ceru iertare generalului, Ã®n gÃ¢nd. Se urcÄƒ pe marginea ferestrei È™i apoi ieÈ™i silenÈ›ios afarÄƒ din camerÄƒ. Merse Ã®n grabÄƒ spre acele cizme. AjungÃ¢nd Ã®n dreptul lor, observÄƒ cÄƒ era, Ã®ntr-adevÄƒr, un soldat ce pÄƒrea cÄƒ doarme. â€žO fi beat, bolnav sau...â€ se Ã®ntrebÄƒ ea, cercetÃ¢ndu-l din aproape. Ai fi zis cÄƒ era pur È™i simplu Ã®ntr-un somn adÃ¢nc. ÃŽncercÄƒ sÄƒ-l trezeascÄƒ miÈ™cÃ¢ndu-l cu o mÃ¢nÄƒ. Niciun rezultat. ÃŽncepu sÄƒ bÄƒnuiascÄƒ tipul vrÄƒjii folosite. Ca sÄƒ se asigure de aceasta, continuÄƒ sÄƒ meargÄƒ precautÄƒ spre dreapta, spre intrarea principalÄƒ a marii clÄƒdiri. ÃŽnaintÃ¢nd bine, ajunse la finalul potecii mÄƒrginite de grÄƒdinÄƒ. IntrÄƒ Ã®n zona largÄƒ, liberÄƒ, bine iluminatÄƒ pe alocuri, din faÈ›a palatului. Aici tresÄƒri Ã®nspÄƒimÃ¢ntatÄƒ. ÃŽn liniÈ™tea sinistrÄƒ, vÄƒzu o mulÈ›ime de oameni Ã®ntinÈ™i pe jos haotic. Nimeni nu miÈ™ca. Se duse lÃ¢ngÄƒ primii oameni din calea ei, se aÈ™ezÄƒ pe genunchi È™i-i cercetÄƒ bine. Erau Ã®ntr-un somn adÃ¢nc. De aici, privind Ã®n jur, avea vedere cÄƒtre scÄƒrile principale din faÈ›a castelului. Unii slujitori â€žadormiserÄƒâ€ pe trepte, care cum apucaserÄƒ. Selunia se temu: â€žAsta-i o vrajÄƒ puternicÄƒ de a reuÈ™it sÄƒ reducÄƒ la tÄƒcere orice fiinÈ›Äƒ din palat. Dar generalul zicea cÄƒ ei n-au pomenit de asemenea atacuri Ã®n Ã®ntreg regatul. Ciudat! Foarte ciudat! Ce-i de fÄƒcut acum?â€ DeodatÄƒ, se auzi o hÄƒrmÄƒlaie venind din interiorul clÄƒdirii. La cÃ¢teva secunde, spre marea ei surprindere, vÄƒzu cum doi oameni, neobiÈ™nuit de Ã®nalÈ›i È™i solizi, ieÈ™irÄƒ alergÃ¢nd voioÈ™i È™i se oprirÄƒ pe palierul din capÄƒtul scÄƒrilor de la intrare. AmÃ¢ndoi rag Ã®n cor, ca niÈ™te animale sÄƒlbatice: â€“ Uraaa! Regatul e al nostru! Uraaa! Seluniei i se opri inima Ã®n loc pentru un moment. RealizÄƒ rapid cÄƒ trebuie sÄƒ se ascundÄƒ, Ã®nainte ca ei s-o observe â€“ deoarece, aÈ™a cum Ã®i putea vedea ea de clar, aÈ™a de bine ar fi putut s-o vadÄƒ È™i ei, de acolo, de sus, din capÄƒtul superior al treptelor. ÃŽÈ™i Ã®ntoarse capul Ã®n stÃ¢nga È™i Ã®n dreapta, cÄƒutÃ¢nd speriatÄƒ o ieÈ™ire. TremurÃ¢nd de emoÈ›ii, Ã®i veni ideea sÄƒ se prefacÄƒ dormind ca ceilalÈ›i. PanicatÄƒ, se trÃ¢nti repede pe o parte, lÃ¢ngÄƒ grupul de oameni vrÄƒjiÈ›i, cu faÈ›a spre scÄƒri. RegretÄƒ imediat aceastÄƒ miÈ™care. FÄƒcuse zgomot. Cei doi se Ã®ntoarserÄƒ pe loc Ã®n direcÈ›ia ei. PrivirÄƒ lung zona deschisÄƒ din faÈ›Äƒ. Nu observarÄƒ nimic dubios. Ceva totuÈ™i se auzise. AmÃ¢ndoi Ã®nclinarÄƒ capul Ã®n semn de aprobare sÄƒ meargÄƒ jos, sÄƒ verifice. ÃŽncep sÄƒ coboare treptele adulmecÃ¢nd Ã®mprejurimile, cu o vigilenÈ›Äƒ de cÃ¢ine vÃ¢nÄƒtoresc. Selunia, stÃ¢nd pe jos, cu ochii Ã®nchiÈ™i de fricÄƒ, le auzi paÈ™ii. SimÈ›i cum o trec toate apele de neliniÈ™te. Regreta amarnic acÈ›iunea ei pripitÄƒ. ÃŽnainte, cÃ¢nd mergea Ã®n micile lupte de la Cetatea AlbÄƒ, nu se speria chiar atÃ¢t de rÄƒu Ã®ncÃ¢t sÄƒ nu È™tie ce sÄƒ mai facÄƒ. Din contrÄƒ, avea o siguranÈ›Äƒ de sine Ã®n deciziile pe care le lua. Acum Ã®nÈ›elegea Ã®nsÄƒ, cÄƒ totul era datoritÄƒ obiÈ™nuinÈ›ei. Aici, Ã®ntr-un loc pe care abia dacÄƒ-l mai recunoÈ™tea, unde lumea se conducea dupÄƒ alte reguli È™i unde ea nu fusese niciodatÄƒ angrenatÄƒ Ã®n vreo bÄƒtÄƒlie, nu È™tia exact cum sÄƒ procedeze. Era crispatÄƒ, ezita mult È™i tindea sÄƒ facÄƒ greÈ™eli ca de Ã®ncepÄƒtor. ÃŽncÄƒ nu-i venea a crede cÄƒ tot palatul fusese adormit, cÄƒ ea este singura persoanÄƒ treazÄƒ, Ã®n afarÄƒ de inamici È™i mai ales, cÄƒ soarta Ã®ntregului regat era acum pe umerii ei. Respingea cu groazÄƒ astfel de gÃ¢nduri. â€žAh! Trebuia sÄƒ nu mÄƒ fi speriat aÈ™a de rÄƒu. Trebuia sÄƒ mÄƒ fi aÈ™ezat Ã®n liniÈ™te. Aveam ceva timp. La naiba! DacÄƒ vin Ã®nspre mine sÄƒ mÄƒ verifice? Nici nu vreau sÄƒ-mi imaginez! Sigur o sÄƒ-È™i dea seama cÄƒ nu dorm. La cÃ¢t de prost acÈ›ionez eu acum... Mi-e aÈ™a de greu sÄƒ-mi controlez respiraÈ›ia...â€ Bardanii terminarÄƒ de coborÃ¢t treptele. Selunia auzi, cu intensitate progresivÄƒ, cum paÈ™i greoi se apropiau de ea. BÄƒtÄƒile inimii i se Ã®nteÈ›irÄƒ. â€žAh, nu! Nu veni aici!â€ Ã®È™i zise ea speriatÄƒ. Unul dintre ei ajunse lÃ¢ngÄƒ grupul de oameni printre care se â€žascunseseâ€ ea. ÃŽncepu sÄƒ-i miÈ™te pe rÃ¢nd, cu piciorul. Selunia se panicÄƒ. â€žSper sÄƒ nu vinÄƒ È™i la mine! Ah, ce mÄƒ fac? Uf, È™tiu cÄƒ ar trebui sÄƒ mÄƒ calmez, dar nu pot. Sunt doar doi. AÈ™ putea sÄƒ-i dobor imediat. Numai sÄƒ nu cumva sÄƒ reuÈ™eascÄƒ sÄƒ cheme Ã®ntÄƒriri. Cine È™tie cÃ¢È›i sunt Ã®n palat? È˜i dacÄƒ au fost Ã®n stare sÄƒ lanseze o vrajÄƒ atÃ¢t de puternicÄƒ, probabil cÄƒ nu-s chiar uÈ™or de Ã®nfrÃ¢nt... Ah! De fapt, mai e o problemÄƒ: sunt oameni. S-ar putea ca loviturile mele energetice sÄƒ le fie fatale. N-am atacat niciodatÄƒ oameni cu mÄƒnuÈ™ile-cristal. Cetatea AlbÄƒ a interzis cu stricteÈ›e aÈ™a ceva. Cum aÈ™ putea eu sÄƒ lupt cu ei fÄƒrÄƒ sÄƒ-i rÄƒnesc, dar nici sÄƒ mÄƒ pun pe mine Ã®n primejdie? Ah, ce mÄƒ fac, ce mÄƒ fac?â€ Spre oroarea ei, bardanul se opri, Ã®n cele din urmÄƒ, Ã®n dreptul ei. ÃŽÈ™i puse Ã®nciudat mÃ¢inile Ã®n È™olduri. Se uitÄƒ Ã®n jur. CoborÃ® ochii asupra ei. O miÈ™cÄƒ de cÃ¢teva ori, apoi rÄƒmase aÈ™a, cu piciorul priponit Ã®n spatele ei. Inima Seluniei Ã®ncremeni. â€žOare È™i-a dat seama? A rÄƒmas special aÈ™a? Ce bine cÄƒ nu mi-am scos mÄƒnuÈ™ile-cristal de pe mÃ¢ini. DacÄƒ se Ã®ntÃ¢mplÄƒ ceva, eu voi putea mÄƒcar sÄƒ mÄƒ apÄƒr. Un atac simplu n-ar trebui sÄƒ-i facÄƒ prea rÄƒu...â€ Bardanul observÄƒ cÄƒ avea un costum puÈ›in mai diferit de restul grupului. O cercetÄƒ mai atent. â€“ BÄƒi! Eu cred cÄƒ a picat vreunu' care nu s-a aÈ™ezat prea bine cÃ¢nd a adormit! Ã®i urlÄƒ, Ã®ntr-un final, celÄƒlalt bardan, indicÃ¢ndu-i zidul curÈ›ii. UitÄƒ-te È™i tu cum stÄƒ Äƒla de colo, chinuit Ã®n picioare, cu spatele de zid. O sÄƒ pice Ã®n curÃ¢nd È™i Äƒla, ca cel de lÃ¢ngÄƒ el. ÃŽntr-adevÄƒr, unii soldaÈ›i pÄƒzitori adormiserÄƒ Ã®n picioare, sprijiniÈ›i de zid. O parte din ei picaserÄƒ apoi, Ã®ntr-o parte, jos, pe pÄƒmÃ¢nt. â€“ Da, dar zgomotul s-a auzit din partea asta, parcÄƒ, spuse primul, suspicios. Zidul e tocmai colo! Selunia se Ã®ncordÄƒ cu totul. â€žPleacÄƒ, pleacÄƒ, pleacÄƒ odatÄƒ!â€ Ã®l implorÄƒ ea Ã®n gÃ¢nd. â€“ Eh, o fi fost Äƒla de lÃ¢ngÄƒ copac, Ã®n spatele tÄƒu, Ã®i rÄƒspunse relaxat al doilea. Cine dracului sÄƒ reziste la o asemenea vrajÄƒ? Ä‚È™tia n-au talismane ca noi... Bardanul Ã®È™i luÄƒ piciorul de pe Selunia. Se rÄƒsuci sÄƒ vadÄƒ ce era Ã®n spatele lui. La baza unui trunchi de copac, un soldat È™edea Ã®ntr-o parte, ca picat. Se apropie de el È™i Ã®l cercetÄƒ minuÈ›ios pentru cÃ¢teva secunde. Se Ã®ntoarse zicÃ¢nd, neconvins Ã®n totalitate: â€“ Bine... O fi fost cum zici tu. Se mai uitÄƒ Ã®ncÄƒ o datÄƒ Ã®n zonÄƒ apoi Ã®i fÄƒcu semn È™i celuilalt sÄƒ se retragÄƒ Ã®nÄƒuntru, Ã®n clÄƒdirea regeascÄƒ. Selunia rÄƒsuflÄƒ uÈ™uratÄƒ, auzind paÈ™ii Ã®ndepÄƒrtÃ¢ndu-se de ea. Aproape cÄƒ amorÈ›ise stÃ¢nd aÈ™a de Ã®ncordatÄƒ. DupÄƒ ce se Ã®nchise poarta metalicÄƒ mare, de la intrare, Selunia se detensionÄƒ bine. AÈ™teptÄƒ cÃ¢teva minute, fÄƒrÄƒ sÄƒ-È™i schimbe poziÈ›ia culcatÄƒ de jos, de teamÄƒ ca nu cumva sÄƒ fie o capcanÄƒ. Poate cÄƒ ei ar fi plÄƒnuit sÄƒ se Ã®ntoarcÄƒ repede ca s-o surprindÄƒ miÈ™cÃ¢ndu-se. Bardanii Ã®nsÄƒ nu se mai Ã®ntoarserÄƒ. Selunia se ridicÄƒ Ã®ncet, cu precauÈ›ie. Se retrase repede pe poteca ce ducea spre camera ei. RÄƒsuflÄƒ Ã®ncÄƒ o datÄƒ È™i mai prelung. Fusese cÃ¢t pe ce sÄƒ fie prinsÄƒ. ÃŽÈ™i scuturÄƒ braÈ›ele È™i picioarele ca sÄƒ se relaxeze mai bine. ÃŽÈ™i duse mÃ¢na dreaptÄƒ la piept. Era tare agitatÄƒ. Respira tare ca dupÄƒ o lungÄƒ alergÄƒturÄƒ. â€žTrebuie sÄƒ mÄƒ calmez, trebuie sÄƒ mÄƒ calmez...â€ Ã®È™i repetÄƒ ea Ã®n gÃ¢nd. â€žAh! Sunt Ã®ntr-o mare Ã®ncurcÄƒturÄƒ! Se pare cÄƒ sunt singura treazÄƒ de aici. Probabil cÄƒ È™i generalul Waltario a cÄƒzut victimÄƒ vrÄƒjii. Oare de cÃ¢t timp a fost lansatÄƒ? De ce n-am fost mai atentÄƒ... Nu-mi place deloc sÄƒ È™tiu cÄƒ eu sunt cea care va trebui sÄƒ salveze acest palat. E o responsabilitate mult, mult prea mare pentru mine. DacÄƒ fac vreo prostie?... Dar nu, nu am voie sÄƒ gÃ¢ndesc aÈ™a acum. Eu pot, am suficientÄƒ experienÈ›Äƒ. Sunt suficient de mare sÄƒ fac faÈ›Äƒ acestei situaÈ›ii!â€ ÃŽi veni Ã®n minte un gÃ¢nd rÄƒutÄƒcios: â€žMare, mare, dar cu abilitÄƒÈ›i de copil! Ce crezi cÄƒ poÈ›i face aÈ™a?â€ ÃŽÈ™i scuturÄƒ uÈ™or capul ca sÄƒ alunge acest gÃ¢nd. Nu era timp de pierdut cu astfel de viziuni demoralizante. Trebuia sÄƒ fie pragmaticÄƒ. Avea nevoie de un plan, unul bun. È˜tia cÄƒ e capabilÄƒ sÄƒ lupte cu acei oameni, dar, mai Ã®ntÃ¢i, trebuia sÄƒ cunoascÄƒ Ã®ntreaga situaÈ›ie. Aceasta presupunea ca ea sÄƒ ajungÄƒ Ã®nÄƒuntru Ã®n palat, Ã®n locul unde erau concentraÈ›i inamicii. BÄƒnuia cÄƒ ar fi Ã®n sala principalÄƒ. Cu siguranÈ›Äƒ a intra prin faÈ›Äƒ, direct, nu era o soluÈ›ie. Nu avea decÃ¢t sÄƒ se Ã®ntoarcÄƒ Ã®n camera ei È™i â€“ de data aceasta â€“ sÄƒ iasÄƒ pe uÈ™Äƒ, nu pe fereastrÄƒ. Zis È™i fÄƒcut. AjunsÄƒ Ã®n camerÄƒ, Ã®È™i aÈ™ezÄƒ bine costumul de soldat, Ã®È™i verificÄƒ mÄƒnuÈ™ile-cristal È™i fixarea cÄƒÈ™tii de protecÈ›ie pe cap, apoi porni hotÄƒrÃ¢tÄƒ pe uÈ™Äƒ ca un rÄƒzboinic adevÄƒrat la luptÄƒ. Pe holul luminat puternic de lÄƒmpile de pe pereÈ›i, merse cu paÈ™i grÄƒbiÈ›i, atentÄƒ sÄƒ vadÄƒ dacÄƒ apare cineva Ã®n faÈ›a sau Ã®n spatele ei. Drumul cÄƒtre sala principalÄƒ Ã®l parcurse fÄƒrÄƒ probleme. Singurii oameni pe care Ã®i Ã®ntÃ¢lnise fuseserÄƒ victimele vrÄƒjii, Ã®mprÄƒÈ™tiate pe jos, Ã®n stare de inconÈ™tienÈ›Äƒ. Pe coridoare domina o tÄƒcere dezolantÄƒ. DacÄƒ ar fi rÄƒmas pe loc, ar fi avut impresia cÄƒ a surzit. Selunia avea o idee generalÄƒ despre cum arÄƒta sala principalÄƒ. CÃ¢nd Waltario o condusese spre camera ei, ei trecuserÄƒ prin aceastÄƒ salÄƒ, iar ea, curioasÄƒ de fel, a aruncat o privire de ansamblu. ParcÄƒ nu mai fusese niciodatÄƒ Ã®n viaÈ›a ei Ã®n acest palat, aÈ™a de nou i se pÄƒruse totul. Sala principalÄƒ era o Ã®ncÄƒpere foarte mare, Ã®naltÄƒ cÃ¢t douÄƒ etaje, Ã®mpodobitÄƒ cu insigne È™i tablouri mari, regale, iluminatÄƒ de candelabre maiestuoase. Era destinatÄƒ primirii de oaspeÈ›i È™i organizÄƒrii de serbÄƒri sau conferinÈ›e majore. DupÄƒ ce intraserÄƒ Ã®n palat È™i trecuserÄƒ de holul larg al gardienilor, Waltario o adusese Ã®n aceastÄƒ salÄƒ grandioasÄƒ, unde ea nu se putu abÈ›ine sÄƒ nu se opreascÄƒ sÄƒ admire. ÃŽn capÄƒt de tot, era un È™ir de trepte din marmurÄƒ cu balustradÄƒ metalicÄƒ, aurie, ce se Ã®ngusta uÈ™or spre partea superioarÄƒ. Acestea duceau cÄƒtre spaÈ›iul larg dedicat tronurilor, un fel de terasÄƒ de unde se È›ineau discursurile. La mijlocul pereÈ›ilor laterali ai sÄƒlii, era cÃ¢te un alt astfel de È™ir de trepte, numai cÄƒ aveau balustradÄƒ din lemn minuÈ›ios sculptat È™i lÄƒcuit. Acestea duceau cÄƒtre lungul palier situat la jumÄƒtatea Ã®nÄƒlÈ›imii Ã®ncÄƒperii. Palierul pornea dintr-o parte È™i din cealaltÄƒ a zonei tronurilor, se Ã®ntindea pe pereÈ›ii laterali È™i se oprea Ã®n peretele de la intrare. Era, de asemenea, mÄƒrginit cu parapet de lemn È™i delimita sala Ã®n douÄƒ pÄƒrÈ›i: una inferioarÄƒ È™i cealaltÄƒ, superioarÄƒ â€“ de la palier pÃ¢nÄƒ Ã®n tavan. Pe ambele se puteau vedea cÃ¢teva uÈ™i È™i nenumÄƒrate ferestre, ce dÄƒdeau spre alte camere ale palatului. Selunia, condusÄƒ de general, o luase atunci spre prima uÈ™Äƒ din dreapta, pe lÃ¢ngÄƒ o scarÄƒ cu balustradÄƒ din lemn. Acum, ea voia sÄƒ ajungÄƒ Ã®ntr-o zonÄƒ de unde-i putea vedea pe atacatori. Le auzise vocile gÄƒlÄƒgioase, È™tia cÄƒ acolo erau, Ã®nsÄƒ trebuia sÄƒ-i È™i vadÄƒ. PlÄƒnuia sÄƒ ajungÄƒ undeva Ã®n partea superioarÄƒ. * Ceata bardanilor se plasase spre mijlocul sÄƒlii, aproape de scara lateralÄƒ â€“ pe lÃ¢ngÄƒ care Selunia trecuse cu generalul la venirea Ã®n palat â€“ cu vedere spre zona tronurilor. PÄƒrinÈ›ii lui Soris, amÃ¢ndoi Ã®n stare de inconÈ™tienÈ›Äƒ, fuseserÄƒ legaÈ›i bine, cu funii groase È™i puÈ™i pe jos, unul lÃ¢ngÄƒ celÄƒlalt. La comanda insistentÄƒ a Vittriei, Soris fusese legat cu braÈ›ele Ã®ntinse Ã®n lateral, de balustradÄƒ, pe partea exterioarÄƒ a scÄƒrii. Ea gÄƒsea aceastÄƒ posturÄƒ spÃ¢nzuratÄƒ, de prizonier chinuit, tare atrÄƒgÄƒtoare. È˜i Ã®n plus, era ca È™i cum ar fi stat Ã®n picioare, normal, deci nu mai trebuia sÄƒ se mai aplece ca sÄƒ ajungÄƒ la chipul lui. Bardanii Ã®È™i admirau â€žprÄƒzileâ€ Ã®n liniÈ™te. ÃŽn afarÄƒ de familia regalÄƒ, alÈ›i oameni ai palatului nu se mai gÄƒseau Ã®n salÄƒ. Leido se roti o datÄƒ prin uriaÈ™a Ã®ncÄƒpere, dÄƒdu din cap mulÈ›umit, apoi spuse: â€“ Gata! Palatul e al nostru! Nu mai rÄƒmÃ¢ne decÃ¢t sÄƒ-l aÈ™teptÄƒm pe Bardan sÄƒ vinÄƒ È™i sÄƒ ordone execuÈ›ia publicÄƒ a Äƒstora. Hehe, a fost mai uÈ™or decÃ¢t ne-am aÈ™teptat. VedeÈ›i ce isteÈ›i am fost sÄƒ-i luÄƒm pe nepregÄƒtite? ParcÄƒ atunci cÃ¢nd planifici prea mult nu iese aÈ™a de bine! Hahahaha! Vittria, istovitÄƒ dupÄƒ munca depusÄƒ, stÄƒtea pe o treaptÄƒ aranjÃ¢ndu-È™i pÄƒrul. SimÈ›ea cÄƒ, dupÄƒ atÃ¢ta trudÄƒ, merita o rÄƒsplatÄƒ, iar aceea nu putea fi alta decÃ¢t Soris. De undeva de sus, pe partea opusÄƒ lor, Selunia Ã®i urmÄƒrea pe furiÈ™, printr-un geam gÄƒsit Ã®ntredeschis. ÃŽi auzise ce voiau sÄƒ facÄƒ. La cÃ¢t de liniÈ™te era, vocile lor rÄƒsunau tare peste tot. Trebuia neapÄƒrat sÄƒ salveze familia regalÄƒ. Generalul Waltario lipsea din scenÄƒ. ÃŽÈ™i numÄƒrÄƒ oponenÈ›ii. â€žHmm, sunt destul de mulÈ›i; È™i Ã®n plus, sunt oameni, nu bestii. N-am voie sÄƒ-i omor. Am depus jurÄƒmÃ¢nt la Cetate. Oamenii nu trebuie omorÃ¢È›i. O sÄƒ trec un pic peste acest principiu cÃ¢nd o sÄƒ-i rÄƒnesc, dar asta ar trebui sÄƒ fie scuzabil.â€ gÃ¢ndi ea tensionatÄƒ. ÃŽÈ™i opri ochii asupra a È™ase bardani. Erau mult mai masivi decÃ¢t restul, cocoÈ™aÈ›i, cu braÈ›e atÃ¢rnÃ¢nd aproape de pÄƒmÃ¢nt, cu o piele uÈ™or violet, pÄƒr lung, negru, dat pe spate È™i urechi uÈ™or ascuÈ›ite. Unul cÄƒscÄƒ larg, lÄƒsÃ¢nd sÄƒ se vadÄƒ douÄƒ È™iruri mari de dinÈ›i conici, ce pÄƒreau a fi colÈ›i mai degrabÄƒ. Selunia se scÄƒrpinÄƒ pe dupÄƒ ceafÄƒ, miÈ™cÃ¢ndu-È™i casca de pe cap: â€žÄ‚ia or fi tot oameni? Sau sunt bestii? La cum aratÄƒ...â€ MeditÄƒ lung asupra naturii acelor fiinÈ›e. ÃŽÈ™i pironi ochii pentru a gÄƒsi detalii definitorii. Erau oameni sau bestii? â€“ Bardan o sÄƒ ne laude pentru asta! exclamÄƒ unul, la un moment dat. Selunia trase concluzie: â€žDeci tot oameni sunt. CÃ¢t timp pot vorbi articulat, Ã®nseamnÄƒ cÄƒ sunt oameni. Heee... Deci n-am voie sÄƒ-i nimicesc.â€ AnalizÄƒ poziÈ›ia lor Ã®n salÄƒ. â€žCred cÄƒ mi-a venit o idee! ExistÄƒ o metodÄƒ care-mi place, dar pe care n-am avut ocazia s-o utilizez prea des, deoarece ia cam mult timp pÃ¢nÄƒ la lansare â€“ È™i destul de multÄƒ energie. Dar aÈ™a voi fi sigurÄƒ cÄƒ nu-i omor, ci cÄƒ doar Ã®i paralizez temporar. PÃ¢nÄƒ atunci cÃ¢nd Ã®È™i vor reveni, eu o sÄƒ am timp sÄƒ sparg vraja â€“ care clar e legatÄƒ de acel sceptru al acelei femei... Dar ce face femeia aia?!â€ Jos, Vittria se apropiase de Soris adulmecÃ¢ndu-l cu privirea din cap pÃ¢nÄƒ Ã®n picioare. Prins aÈ™a, cu spatele lipit de barele balustradei È™i braÈ›ele deschise ca aripile unui vultur Ã®n aer, i se pÄƒrea cÄƒ-l poate admira È™i mai bine. ÃŽÈ™i trecu cu satisfacÈ›ie mÃ¢na dreaptÄƒ peste umerii È™i pieptul lui. AÈ™teptÄƒ un moment Ã®n care nimeni nu stÄƒtea atent la ea. RidicÄƒ toiagul apropiind cu grijÄƒ globul de cristal de fruntea prinÈ›ului. Rosti o scurtÄƒ incantaÈ›ie Ã®n gÃ¢nd. Piatra se aprinse progresiv È™i extrase un È™uvoi de praf negru, ce ieÈ™ea miraculos, din fruntea lui. Soris se trezi uÈ™or. ÃŽÈ™i Ã®ntredeschise pleoapele È™i privi mahmur Ã®n jurul lui Ã®ncercÃ¢nd sÄƒ priceapÄƒ ce se petrecea cu el. ÃŽi era tare rÄƒu. Respira greu, de parcÄƒ ar fi suferit de o boalÄƒ gravÄƒ. Abia realiza propria sa identitate. SimÈ›ind atingerea unei mÃ¢ini cum Ã®i alunecÄƒ fin pe dupÄƒ gÃ¢t, Ã®È™i dÄƒdu capul pe spate È™i Ã®l sprijini de balustradÄƒ. O observÄƒ pe Vittria zÃ¢mbindu-i provocator. Soris Ã®È™i Ã®ncruntÄƒ sprÃ¢ncenele, gÃ¢ndind: â€žNemernica! M-a otrÄƒvit! Nu È™tiu cÃ¢nd a reuÈ™it sÄƒ facÄƒ asta, dar cu siguranÈ›Äƒ asta a fost cauza acelor halucinaÈ›ii ciudate. Cine-a mai pomenit o femeie zburÃ¢nd Ã®ntr-o flacÄƒrÄƒ mare? E absurd!â€ ÃŽÈ™i luÄƒ privirea de la acel zÃ¢mbet iritant È™i se uitÄƒ Ã®n jur. Deschise ochii larg cÃ¢nd Ã®È™i observÄƒ proprii lui pÄƒrinÈ›i captivi. TatÄƒl lui â€“ Ã®n afara anumitor nÄƒravuri condamnabile â€“ era un luptÄƒtor foarte bun. Cum de reuÈ™iserÄƒ ei sÄƒ-l prindÄƒ È™i pe el? Soris era foarte tulburat: â€žProbabil cÄƒ È™i el a fost otrÄƒvit. È˜i la fel È™i mama. Dar cine sunt oamenii ÄƒÈ™tia ciudaÈ›i? Cum de-au reuÈ™it sÄƒ facÄƒ asta? Unde sunt soldaÈ›ii noÈ™tri? Unde e generalul? Ce s-a Ã®ntÃ¢mplat? Oare am din nou un coÈ™mar?â€ Vittria Ã®l apucÄƒ de bÄƒrbie È™i-i trase chipul spre ea. Soris, dezgustat, fÄƒcu un efort È™i Ã®È™i luÄƒ brusc capul din direcÈ›ia ei. ÃŽncercÄƒ sÄƒ se zbatÄƒ pentru a se desprinde din legÄƒturile strÃ¢nse. Funiile Ã®nsÄƒ abia dacÄƒ se clinteau. MiÈ™carea aceasta nu-i fÄƒcu prea bine, deoarece imediat i se Ã®ntunecÄƒ vederea. O durere copleÈ™itoare Ã®i porni din creÈ™tet È™i i se revÄƒrsÄƒ Ã®n tot corpul, inducÃ¢ndu-i o stare de slÄƒbiciune. ÃŽnchise ochii strÃ¢ns, suspinÃ¢nd de suferinÈ›Äƒ. â€“ Nu mai Ã®ncerca sÄƒ te zbaÈ›i, frumosule, Ã®i È™opti ea, apropiindu-È™i buzele de urechea lui stÃ¢ngÄƒ. Orice miÈ™care vei Ã®ncerca sÄƒ faci, mai rÄƒu o sÄƒ te slÄƒbeascÄƒ. RenunÈ›Äƒ! Nu mai ai scÄƒpare acum. Al meu eÈ™ti! È˜i spre surprinderea lui â€“ È™i indignarea Seluniei care-i urmÄƒrea de sus â€“ Vittria Ã®i cuprinse tÃ¢mplele Ã®n mÃ¢inile ei parfumate, Ã®i Ã®ntoarse faÈ›a spre ea È™i cÄƒutÄƒ sÄƒ-i Ã®ntÃ¢lneascÄƒ privirea. Selunia, cu ochii È›intÄƒ la ea, Ã®È™i activÄƒ o mÄƒnuÈ™Äƒ, gÃ¢ndind: â€žDacÄƒ nebuna aia Ã®ncearcÄƒ sÄƒ-i facÄƒ ceva, eu... eu n-am sÄƒ stau pe loc! O sÄƒ las deoparte orice plan.â€ â€“ DÄƒ-mi drumul! Ce vrei sÄƒ faci? reuÈ™i el sÄƒ strige, atrÄƒgÃ¢nd atenÈ›ia celor din jur. Un bardan sÄƒri È™i o trase pe Vittria Ã®napoi. Soris rÄƒsuflÄƒ uÈ™urat. PresimÈ›ea cÄƒ intenÈ›iile ei nu erau tocmai curate. Selunia Ã®È™i dezactivÄƒ mÄƒnuÈ™a, rÄƒmÃ¢nÃ¢nd atentÄƒ la cum progreseazÄƒ lucrurile: â€žS-ar putea sÄƒ nu renunÈ›e aÈ™a de uÈ™or... Dar, serios, ce voia sÄƒ facÄƒ?!â€ Leido, Ã®nfuriat, o Ã®ntrebÄƒ rÄƒstit: â€“ Vittria! Ce securea mea crezi cÄƒ faci? De ce l-ai trezit? â€“ Nu-i treaba ta! Ã®i rÄƒspunse ea impertinent, smulgÃ¢ndu-se din strÃ¢nsoarea colegului ei. Eu doar l-am trezit un pic, ce te Ã®ngrijorezi aÈ™a? ÃŽn stadiul Äƒsta, n-are cum sÄƒ scape. Se uitÄƒ uricioasÄƒ la toÈ›i È™i le urlÄƒ: â€“ FaceÈ›i-vÄƒ de lucru! Eu nu vreau decÃ¢t sÄƒ mÄƒ distrez niÈ›el! Ce, n-am voie, dupÄƒ tot ce am fÄƒcut? Nu staÈ›i cu ochii pe mine! PÃ¢nÄƒ la urmÄƒ, datoritÄƒ mie am reuÈ™it sÄƒ-i capturÄƒm! N-aveÈ›i niciun pic de recunoÈ™tinÈ›Äƒ! ToÈ›i, Ã®n afarÄƒ de Leido, Ã®È™i lÄƒsarÄƒ mustraÈ›i, cu conÈ™tiinÈ›a Ã®ncÄƒrcatÄƒ, privirile Ã®n pÄƒmÃ¢nt. Leido scrÃ¢È™ni din dinÈ›i. Privi lung cÃ¢nd la ea, cÃ¢nd la prinÈ›. Zise: â€“ AÈ™a este, ai muncit destul, Vittria; nu zice nimeni cÄƒ nu, dar ai grijÄƒ sÄƒ nu strici tot ce-ai muncit, cu vreo idee nechibzuitÄƒ. DacÄƒ din cauza ta Ã®i pierdem, contribuÈ›ia ta de pÃ¢nÄƒ acum n-o sÄƒ mai aibÄƒ nicio valoare! O sÄƒ fii pedepsitÄƒ amarnic! Vittria, Ã®È™i ridicÄƒ È›Ã¢fnoasÄƒ, bÄƒrbia. â€“ Hm! È˜tiu foarte bine ce fac! ÃŽn momentul Äƒsta, dacÄƒ-i vom pierde, va fi numai din vina voastrÄƒ! Nu te mai neliniÈ™ti atÃ¢ta, Leido! Am studiat foarte bine aceastÄƒ vrajÄƒ. AÈ™a cum e el Ã®n stadiul actual, Ã®l putem È›ine È™i nelegat. Nu poate nici mÄƒcar sÄƒ stea Ã®n picioare de unul singur. Vittria rÃ¢se puÈ›in pe Ã®nfundate, privindu-l ameninÈ›Äƒtor pe prinÈ›. Soris simÈ›ea cÄƒ-i fierbe sufletul de nervi È™i de urÄƒ. ÃŽi displÄƒcea enorm situaÈ›ia Ã®n care se afla: total lipsit de puteri, legat de mÃ¢ini È™i de picioare, Ã®nconjurat de oameni ciudaÈ›i, ce-i rÃ¢njeau triumfÄƒtor Ã®n faÈ›Äƒ È™i-È™i doreau sÄƒ-l batjocoreascÄƒ Ã®n fel È™i chip, È™i â€“ Ã®ncÄƒ È™i mai rÄƒu de atÃ¢t â€“ Ã®È™i vedea familia È™i Ã®ntreg palatul cucerit cu uÈ™urinÈ›Äƒ de cÃ¢È›iva strÄƒini meschini. ÃŽnvinseserÄƒ cu curaj nenumÄƒrate armate puternice, doar ca, la final, sÄƒ fie Ã®ngenunchiaÈ›i de o mÃ¢nÄƒ de oameni. Nimic nu putea fi mai umilitor pentru el. Pe deasupra, Ã®l deznÄƒdÄƒjduia gÃ¢ndul cÄƒ nu are nicio scÄƒpare. Avea nevoie neapÄƒrat de ajutor; era absolut inapt sÄƒ mai facÄƒ ceva. â€žWaltario, unde eÈ™ti? Vino odatÄƒ! È˜tiu cÄƒ vei veni sÄƒ ne salvezi, numai vino odatÄƒ! Sper cÄƒ n-ai fost È™i tu prins pe undeva. Ai Ã®ntÃ¢rziat destul de mult de cÃ¢nd ai plecat...â€ Un bardan, aÈ›Ã¢È›at de spusele Vittriei, se apropie distrat, de prinÈ›. Scoase un cuÈ›it de la brÃ¢u. â€“ DacÄƒ e aÈ™a cum spui tu, dragÄƒ Vittria, dÄƒ-mi voie sÄƒ te ajut puÈ›in Ã®n distracÈ›ia ta. Heaheaha! rÃ¢se el, Ã®nvÃ¢rtind cuÈ›itul Ã®n mÃ¢nÄƒ. Selunia se Ã®ncordÄƒ din nou. ÃŽÈ™i aprinse iar mÄƒnuÈ™a. â€žSÄƒlbaticii ÄƒÈ™tia sunt lipsiÈ›i de scrupule! Tot timpul Ã®l vizeazÄƒ pe Soris. Nu pot sÄƒ plec sÄƒ-mi pun planul Ã®n aplicare din cauza lor. DacÄƒ Ã®ncearcÄƒ sÄƒ-l mutileze?!â€ AjungÃ¢nd Ã®n dreptul prinÈ›ului, bardanul Ã®i arÄƒtÄƒ rÃ¢njind, lama ascuÈ›itÄƒ È™i-i spuse: â€“ Ehei, bÄƒieÈ›aÈ™ule! Dac-ai È™tii cÃ¢t de mult m-am plictisit urmÄƒrindu-È›i miÈ™cÄƒrile-n fiecare zi... De cÃ¢nd aÈ™tept momentul Äƒsta! IatÄƒ cÄƒ eÈ™ti Ã®n mÃ¢inile mele! â€žIatÄƒ cÄƒ eÈ™ti un cretin.â€ comentÄƒ Soris Ã®n gÃ¢nd, ca sÄƒ facÄƒ haz de necaz. Bardanul continuÄƒ: â€“ È˜tiu fiecare ranÄƒ pe care o ai pe corp. Ce-ar fi sÄƒ È›i-o redeschid pe cea mai proaspÄƒtÄƒ, Äƒi? Ce Ã®È›i mai face umÄƒrul? Heheaheaha! Soris dÄƒdu din nou sÄƒ se zbatÄƒ, sÄƒ se desprindÄƒ din legÄƒturi. Era conÈ™tient cÄƒ nu avea nicio È™ansÄƒ sÄƒ scape. È˜tia cÄƒ astfel de torturi urmau sÄƒ Ã®nceapÄƒ, mai devreme sau mai tÃ¢rziu. Era plÄƒcerea duÈ™manilor. OdatÄƒ ajuns Ã®n captivitate, era ca È™i cum Ã®È™i pierdea statutul de om; devenea un obiect. Nu era prima oarÄƒ cÃ¢nd pÄƒÈ›ea aceasta, Ã®nsÄƒ teroarea era mereu la fel de mare. Selunia tresÄƒri speriatÄƒ Ã®n loc vÄƒzÃ¢nd cum bardanul se pregÄƒtea sÄƒ-l Ã®njunghie. â€žAh! Ce mÄƒ fac, ce mÄƒ fac? ÃŽncÄƒ nu sunt gata, dar nu pot sta locului cÃ¢nd bietul Soris urmeazÄƒ sÄƒ fie chinuit!â€ ÃŽn acel moment Ã®nsÄƒ, Vittria interveni salvatoare: â€“ Ei-ei! Ia mÃ¢na dupÄƒ el, neghiobule! Èši-am zis cÄƒ e al meu! Numai eu am voie sÄƒ mÄƒ distrez cu el! Bardanul, orgolios, È™ovÄƒi puÈ›in, apoi, cÃ¢nd Vittria ajunse lÃ¢ngÄƒ el, scrÃ¢È™ni nemulÈ›umit din dinÈ›i È™i se retrase. Soris rÄƒsuflÄƒ uÈ™urat pe jumÄƒtate, ca È™i Selunia. Femeia care tocmai Ã®l salvase, nu era o variantÄƒ mai acceptabilÄƒ de chin. Selunia Ã®È™i dezactivÄƒ mÄƒnuÈ™a. Soris, vrÃ¢nd sÄƒ tragÄƒ de timp, se forÈ›Äƒ È™i-l Ã®ntrebÄƒ pe Leido: â€“ Cine sunteÈ›i voi? De ce faceÈ›i asta? Ce vreÈ›i de la noi? LÄƒsÄƒ apoi capul Ã®n jos, strÃ¢ngÃ¢ndu-È™i pleoapele, epuizat. Leido se dÄƒdu uÈ™or pe spate, zÃ¢mbind rÄƒutÄƒcios. â€“ O sÄƒ vezi tu, cÃ¢t mai curÃ¢nd, ce-o sÄƒ facem cu voi, hehe! Ã®i rÄƒspunde el rÃ¢zÃ¢nd. Sunt sigur cÄƒ vrei sÄƒ È™tii cine suntem, numai cÄƒ mie nu-mi palce sÄƒ mÄƒ repet. Vittria! TrezeÈ™te-i È™i p'Äƒia doi de jos! comandÄƒ el, indicÃ¢ndu-i, cu o Ã®nclinare a capului, pe pÄƒrinÈ›ii lui Soris. â€“ Bine, dar dupÄƒ aceea sÄƒ nu mÄƒ mai deranjaÈ›i pe mine È™i Soris... spuse ea mergÃ¢nd alene spre rege È™i reginÄƒ. ToÈ›i bardanii tresÄƒrirÄƒ de bucurie la auzul acestei comenzi. De cÃ¢nd Ã®i vÄƒzuserÄƒ pe toÈ›i din palat rÄƒpuÈ™i, deveniserÄƒ tare mÃ¢ndri de ei Ã®nÈ™iÈ™i. Umilirea familiei regale era premiul mult aÈ™teptat, dupÄƒ atÃ¢ta vreme de stat Ã®n umbrÄƒ. Selunia se trezi brusc din starea de gurÄƒ-cascÄƒ. â€žAcum e momentul! Acum ei sunt preocupaÈ›i sÄƒ se laude Ã®n faÈ›a pÄƒrinÈ›ilor lui Soris. Nu e timp de pierdut. Haide, odatÄƒ, Selunia!â€ se zori ea singurÄƒ, retrÄƒgÃ¢ndu-se de la geam. Se regÄƒsi, din nou, pe un coridor tÄƒcut ca un mormÃ¢nt. Se uitÄƒ debusolatÄƒ Ã®n stÃ¢nga È™i Ã®n dreapta. Membrele Ã®i tremurau de emoÈ›ii. ÃŽntreg regatul depindea acum de acÈ›iunile ei. È˜i numai ea, singurÄƒ, fÄƒrÄƒ nici mÄƒcar un sfat din partea cuiva, trebuia sÄƒ decidÄƒ ce sÄƒ facÄƒ. â€žDacÄƒ eu nu voi reuÈ™i sÄƒ salvez oamenii de aici, s-ar putea ca asta sÄƒ aibÄƒ o consecinÈ›Äƒ radicalÄƒ asupra istoriei!â€ Nu avea voie sÄƒ dea greÈ™. Trase adÃ¢nc aer Ã®n piept. ÃŽncercÄƒ sÄƒ gÃ¢ndeascÄƒ pur raÈ›ional: â€žÃŽmi trebuie apÄƒ, o gÄƒleatÄƒ cu apÄƒ!â€ O luÄƒ pe culoar, spre stÃ¢nga. ÃŽÈ™i amintise cÄƒ, Ã®n drumul ei spre sala principalÄƒ, vÄƒzuse, lÃ¢ngÄƒ cÃ¢teva slujnice, niÈ™te gÄƒleÈ›i de apÄƒ. AlergÄƒ cÃ¢t putu ea de repede, paÈ™ii ei rÄƒsunÃ¢nd pe coridoare È™i trepte, ca Ã®ntr-o grotÄƒ. AjunsÄƒ lÃ¢ngÄƒ slujnice, ea observÄƒ cÄƒ, de fapt, era vorba de o singurÄƒ gÄƒleatÄƒ cu apÄƒ. Celelalte trei È™edeau rÄƒsturnate pe covor. O luÄƒ pe cea rÄƒmasÄƒ plinÄƒ, rugÃ¢ndu-se, Ã®n gÃ¢nd, sÄƒ fie suficientÄƒ È™i sÄƒ nu o verse din greÈ™ealÄƒ. Merse cu grijÄƒ, cu pas grÄƒbit spre sala principalÄƒ. ÃŽÈ™i fÄƒcuse un plan sÄƒ ajungÄƒ la parter, Ã®n zona inferioarÄƒ a sÄƒlii, undeva Ã®n lateralul scÄƒrii centrale â€“ pe partea opusÄƒ poziÈ›iei bardanilor. Acolo, calculase ea, ar fi putut sta cÃ¢t mai aproape de bardani, sÄƒ-i poatÄƒ urmÄƒri È™i ataca â€“ cel puÈ›in dacÄƒ nu urmau sÄƒ se plimbe prea mult prin Ã®ncÄƒpere. DupÄƒ cum Ã®i vÄƒzuse ea cÄƒ stÄƒteau adunaÈ›i, aproape de membrii familiei regale, ca albinele la miere, se Ã®ndoia cÄƒ se vor deplasa prea mult. CÃ¢t timp ea Ã®È™i cÄƒuta, cu inima crispatÄƒ, calea spre acel loc din salÄƒ, Vittria deja Ã®i trezise pe rege È™i reginÄƒ. Erau tulburaÈ›i È™i tare nedumeriÈ›i de tot ceea ce se petrecea cu ei È™i Ã®n jurul lor. Doi bardani Ã®i â€žajutarÄƒâ€ sÄƒ se ridice Ã®n stÃ¢nd pe genunchi. ToÈ›i savurau din plin sÄƒ-i vadÄƒ pe mai marii regatului, Ã®njosiÈ›i aÈ™a, Ã®n faÈ›a lor, cu expresii de fiinÈ›e neajutorate. Soris reuÈ™i sÄƒ schimbe cu ei priviri pline de subÃ®nÈ›eles È™i compÄƒtimitoare. â€“ Haha, rÃ¢se Leido punÃ¢ndu-È™i mÃ¢inile Ã®n È™old. BunÄƒ seara, MaiestÄƒÈ›ilor Voastre! Sunt sigur cÄƒ, la fel ca bÄƒieÈ›elul vostru rÄƒsfÄƒÈ›at, sunteÈ›i tare nerÄƒbdÄƒtori sÄƒ ne cunoaÈ™teÈ›i. Haha! Se rÄƒsuci Ã®n loc indicÃ¢ndu-i trufaÈ™, cu mÃ¢na sa dreaptÄƒ, pe toÈ›i membrii grupÄƒrii, È™i zicÃ¢nd cu voce crescÄƒtoare: â€“ Noi suntem slujitorii loiali ai lui Bardan, viitorul rege al Regatului Arid! Bardanii izbucnirÄƒ Ã®n urale, ridicÃ¢nd pumnii Ã®n sus ca dupÄƒ o victorie. Leido continuÄƒ mai cu foc: â€“ Bardan este stÄƒpÃ¢nul nostru priceput; cel mai Ã®ndreptÄƒÈ›it om sÄƒ conducÄƒ Regatul Arid! DominaÈ›ia voastrÄƒ pÄƒguboasÄƒ va lua sfÃ¢rÈ™it, cÃ¢t mai curÃ¢nd! Jos cu familia Ardensis! Bardanii urlarÄƒ extaziaÈ›i din nou. Regele Ã®i asculta indiferent. Nu vedea Ã®n manifestarea â€žcuceritorilorâ€ decÃ¢t un act de bucurie temporarÄƒ. De altfel, nu era prima oarÄƒ cÃ¢nd auzea astfel de vorbe, iar acum, oboseala È™i slÄƒbiciunea induse de vraja Vittriei, parcÄƒ-i amorÈ›iserÄƒ È™i emoÈ›iile. ÃŽi aÈ™teptÄƒ sÄƒ se potoleascÄƒ. Trase aer Ã®n piept È™i-i Ã®ntrebÄƒ calm, cu o notÄƒ insinuantÄƒ: â€“ È˜i cine este, mai exact, acest magnific Bardan? De unde vine el? Soris schiÈ›Äƒ un zÃ¢mbet. Chiar dacÄƒ se certa des cu tatÄƒl sÄƒu, avÃ¢nd multe de reproÈ™at, el nu putea sÄƒ nu-i aprecieze acest simÈ› al umorului Ã®n situaÈ›ii tensionate. Era o calitate care transformase anumite momente dificile din rÄƒzboi Ã®n amintiri plÄƒcute. Glumele lui parcÄƒ era un semn cÄƒ Ã®ncÄƒ mai existÄƒ È™anse de scÄƒpare. â€žNumai de-om putea scÄƒpa È™i acum vii È™i nevÄƒtÄƒmaÈ›i...â€ Leido se plimbÄƒ cÃ¢È›iva paÈ™i prin faÈ›a regelui, Ã®ntÃ¢rziind sÄƒ rÄƒspundÄƒ. Momentul lor de glorie trebuia savurat Ã®ncet È™i bine. Se dÄƒdu pe spate mÃ¢ndru, oprindu-se Ã®n loc, È™i rÄƒspunse eroic: â€“ Bardan este cel care va schimba proasta orÃ¢nduire din acest regat. â€ž... Ã®n È™i mai proastÄƒ,â€ Ã®l completÄƒ Soris ironic, Ã®n gÃ¢ndul sÄƒu. Leido continuÄƒ cu un ton afectat: â€“ Din nefericire, el este... (ÃŽÈ™i drese vocea intenÈ›ionat.) El este totodatÄƒ È™i fratele tÄƒu vitreg. Regele Ã®È™i ridicÄƒ o sprÃ¢nceanÄƒ. Despre ce frate vitreg era vorba? TatÄƒl sÄƒu, bunicul lui Soris, nu i-a spus niciodatÄƒ despre posibilitatea existenÈ›ei unui astfel de frate. Citindu-i Ã®ntrebarea din ochi, Leido reluÄƒ: â€“ Nu te uita aÈ™a la mine. È˜tii bine cÄƒ taicÄƒ-tÄƒu n-a fost sfÃ¢nt. Cu mulÈ›i ani Ã®n urmÄƒ, cÃ¢nd era el tÃ¢nÄƒr È™i s-a Ã®ntins pe continentul nostru Ã®n Ã®ncercarea de a-i omorÃ® pe cravali, i-a picat dragÄƒ o locuitoare de-a noastrÄƒ, Macalina. ÃŽÈ›i spune ceva numele Äƒsta, viitorule fost rege? Ã®ncheie el cu un rÃ¢njet provocator. Regele nu Ã®È™i pierdu cumpÄƒtul, ci rÄƒmase o vreme pe gÃ¢nduri. ÃŽncercÄƒ sÄƒ facÄƒ legÄƒturi Ã®ntre cele auzite È™i cele È™tiute de el. Spuse liniÈ™tit: â€“ CÃ¢nd a luptat cu cravalii, spui tu... ÃŽnseamnÄƒ cÄƒ voi veniÈ›i de pe continentul Avaidan, nu-i aÈ™a? Bardanii È™i Ã®nsÄƒÈ™i Vittria Ã®È™i ridicarÄƒ feÈ›ele, cu patriotism, mÃ¢ndri sÄƒ audÄƒ rostit numele continentului lor mamÄƒ. â€“ Exact! Noi toÈ›i venim de pe Avaidan! confirmÄƒ rÄƒspicat Leido. â€“ AÈ™a È™i? Ce treabÄƒ aveÈ›i voi atunci pe Centeralum, aici Ã®n regatul nostru? Nu e suficient vastul Avaidan? Ã®ntrebÄƒ regele, zeflemitor. Leido tÄƒcu pentru cÃ¢teva secunde, neslÄƒbindu-l din priviri. ÃŽl deranja calmul lui. ÃŽi rÄƒspunse: â€“ Bardan are dreptul de a fi rege aici, Ã®n una dintre cele mai bogate zone ale lumii, Ã®naintea ta! ÃŽn plus, Bardan trebuie sÄƒ-È™i rÄƒzbune mama nedreptÄƒÈ›itÄƒ! A fost lÄƒsatÄƒ singurÄƒ la greu! Eh, Ã®n privinÈ›a asta, cred cÄƒ Bardan are mai multe sÄƒ-È›i zicÄƒ personal, aÈ™a cÄƒ n-am sÄƒ intru Ã®n detaliu. Dar pe tine nu te intereseazÄƒ sÄƒ afli cum de-am reuÈ™it sÄƒ vÄƒ rÄƒpunem atÃ¢t de simplu? â€“ Ba da... dar tocmai metoda asta secretÄƒ a voastrÄƒ mÄƒ Ã®mpiedicÄƒ sÄƒ mai pun Ã®ntrebÄƒri, Ã®i rÄƒspunse, cu un zÃ¢mbet obosit, regele Ardensis. È˜i el bÄƒnuia, la fel ca Soris È™i regina Ardensis, cÄƒ era vorba de vreo otravÄƒ specialÄƒ. Leido se enervÄƒ puÈ›in, vÄƒzÃ¢ndu-i dÃ¢rzenia de a fi ironic cu el. Soris era bucuros cÄƒ Ã®i È›ine de vorbÄƒ pe bardani. AtenÈ›ia nu mai era asupra lui È™i, spre marea lui Ã®ncÃ¢ntare, pÃ¢nÄƒ È™i Vittria uitase de el. DiscuÈ›ia aceasta era foarte importantÄƒ pentru ei. Leido se prefÄƒcu a ignora provocarea regelui. ÃŽi spuse: â€“ Ei bine, ce n-a È™tiut tatÄƒl tÄƒu atunci, era cÄƒ Macalina era â€“ È™i Ã®ncÄƒ mai este â€“ una dintre cele mai mari vrÄƒjitoare de pe tot Avaidanul. DatoritÄƒ ei, Bardan a devenit atÃ¢t de puternic Ã®ncÃ¢t sÄƒ poatÄƒ cuceri regatul vostru fÄƒrÄƒ efort, mai ales pe un continent care habar n-are de vrÄƒjitorie! Hahaha! Cu o singurÄƒ vrajÄƒ, v-am adus pe toÈ›i la picioarele noastre! Hahaha! RÃ¢sul sÄƒu rÄƒsunÄƒ tare Ã®n toatÄƒ sala, acompaniat fiind de restul grupÄƒrii. Regele, regina È™i Soris nu puteau Ã®nÈ›elege È™i nici mÄƒcar accepta cele auzite. PÄƒrea o mare absurditate spusÄƒ Ã®n bÄƒtaie de joc. VrÄƒjile È›ineau de lumea fantasticului, nicidecum de realitate. Doar nu se aÈ™teptau ca ei sÄƒ creadÄƒ o asemenea minciunÄƒ gogonatÄƒ. Soris Ã®ncerca sÄƒ ghiceascÄƒ un Ã®nÈ›eles ascuns: â€žPoate cÄƒ ei numesc Â«vrajÄƒÂ» tocmai acea otravÄƒ specialÄƒ a lor...â€ * Selunia gÄƒsi uÈ™a, spre sala principalÄƒ, pe care o cÄƒuta. VerificÄƒ, prin ferestrele din apropiere, dacÄƒ a ajuns unde trebuie. Nimerise bine. Se duse Ã®n dreptul uÈ™ii. RÃ¢sul bardanilor se auzea foarte bine. â€žAcum ar fi optim sÄƒ intru, cÃ¢nd ei fac hÄƒrmÄƒlaie È™i nu pot auzi intrarea mea. SÄƒ sperÄƒm cÄƒ uÈ™a nu o sÄƒ scÃ¢rÈ›Ã¢ie...â€ gÃ¢ndi ea, punÃ¢ndu-È™i mÃ¢na pe clanÈ›Äƒ. Din acest moment, tensiunea Ã®ncepu sÄƒ creascÄƒ. Putea sÄƒ jure cÄƒ simÈ›ea cum sÃ¢ngele fierbinte Ã®i circula prin vene, concentrÃ¢ndu-se Ã®n braÈ›ele ei. ÈšinÃ¢ndu-È™i respiraÈ›ia, apÄƒsÄƒ foarte uÈ™or pe clanÈ›Äƒ. ÃŽntredeschise uÈ™a. AruncÄƒ o privire Ã®nÄƒuntru, pentru a se asigura de corectitudinea planului ei. Ajunsese unde trebuia: la vreo doi metri, Ã®n stÃ¢nga, se vedea peretele susÈ›inÄƒtor al scÄƒrilor cu balustradÄƒ aurie, iar Ã®n dreapta È™i mult Ã®n faÈ›Äƒ, jumÄƒtatea de salÄƒ opusÄƒ celei pe care se aflau bardanii. ÃŽntÃ¢mpinÄƒ o problemÄƒ: unul dintre ei stÄƒtea ceva mai departe de restul, Ã®nspre centrul sÄƒlii. Ar fi putut sÄƒ o observe cÃ¢nd ieÈ™ea pe uÈ™Äƒ È™i se ducea lÃ¢ngÄƒ scarÄƒ. â€žAh, la naiba!â€ Ã®njurÄƒ ea. â€žE tare riscant sÄƒ mÄƒ duc aÈ™a; mai ales cÄƒ trebuie sÄƒ car È™i gÄƒleata asta dupÄƒ mine... È™i Ã®ncepe sÄƒ se lase liniÈ™te. Ah! Cine l-a pus È™i p-Äƒla sÄƒ se aÈ™eze tocmai Ã®n centru?! DÄƒ-te mai Ã®ncolo! Of, cÃ¢t trebuie sÄƒ mÄƒ chinui sÄƒ vÄƒ las vii, cÃ¢nd aÈ™ putea, mult mai uÈ™or, sÄƒ vÄƒ dobor dÃ¢nd buzna Ã®n salÄƒ! SÄƒ Ã®ncerc totuÈ™i sÄƒ lansez atacul de aici? E cam departe È™i nu-i pot observa prea bine.â€ ÃŽn acea clipÄƒ, Ã®l auzi pe rege zicÃ¢nd plictisit: â€“ Bardan, Bardan È™i iarÄƒÈ™i Bardan. ÃŽl tot menÈ›ionezi È™i-l lauzi de ceva vreme. Dar unde e el acum? Din cÃ¢te Ã®nÈ›eleg, nu e aici, Ã®n acest moment. Sau cumva... e acela de colo, care stÄƒ aÈ™a, mai aparte de voi? Selunia tresÄƒri uÈ™or. ParcÄƒ regele Ã®i auzise gÃ¢ndul: fÄƒcuse referire tocmai la bardanul ce-i stÄƒtea ei Ã®n cale. Acesta era unul din cei cu piele violet È™i braÈ›e lungi; avea o figurÄƒ posacÄƒ È™i placidÄƒ, Ã®n niciun caz de conducÄƒtor rÄƒzbunÄƒtor. Vorbele regelui avurÄƒ efect asupra lui: simÈ›indu-se bÄƒgat Ã®n seamÄƒ, spre marea bucurie a Seluniei, el se apropie de restul. Problema deci fusese rezolvatÄƒ. Cu inima bÄƒtÃ¢ndu-i tare Ã®n piept, Selunia strÃ¢nse toarta gÄƒleÈ›ii È™i Ã®mpinse, cu mÃ¢na liberÄƒ, uÈ™a ce se deschise lin. I se tÄƒie respiraÈ›ia. PÄƒÈ™i Ã®n sala puternic iluminatÄƒ avÃ¢nd senzaÈ›ia cÄƒ face ceva greÈ™it, cÄƒ se avÃ¢ntÄƒ Ã®ntr-o zonÄƒ periculoasÄƒ, asemenea unui om neÈ™tiutor Ã®n largul mÄƒrii. Aerul din salÄƒ i pÄƒrea diferit de cel de pe coridor. Avea parcÄƒ altÄƒ densitate, altÄƒ compoziÈ›ie; Ã®i dÄƒdea fiori ca un loc bÃ¢ntuit. Transpirase din cap pÃ¢nÄƒ Ã®n picioare. ÃŽÈ™i simÈ›ea toÈ›i muÈ™chii din corp contractaÈ›i. InconÈ™tient, È›inea ochii larg deschiÈ™i, atentÄƒ sÄƒ observe dacÄƒ ceva primejdios apÄƒrea Ã®n jurul ei. È˜tia cÄƒ nu are voie sÄƒ greÈ™eascÄƒ. Nu era vorba numai de viaÈ›a ei acum. Un singur zgomot È™i planul ei ar fi fost pierdut, ar fi intrat Ã®n confruntare directÄƒ cu bardanii de care Ã®i era oarecum teamÄƒ. Nu-i vÄƒzuse Ã®n acÈ›iune, nu È™tia ce tehnici de luptÄƒ aveau. È˜i erau destul de mulÈ›i pentru ea. A lupta cu oameni putea fi mai greu decÃ¢t cu bestii sau alte creaturi. Ei puteau ticlui planuri, ataca Ã®n unison sau pregÄƒti capcane. ÃŽn plus, Ã®È™i amintea cÄƒ, Ã®n antrenamentele ei cu Elis, Ryan sau alÈ›i colegi, ea nu ieÈ™ise niciodatÄƒ Ã®nvingÄƒtoare. Poate cÄƒ bardanii nu erau la fel de puternici ca ei, Ã®nsÄƒ ea nu putea miza pe aceasta. Trebuia sÄƒ fie cÃ¢t mai precautÄƒ. Aici nu era vorba de un joc sau antrenament, ci de soarta unui regat. Leido, enervat de â€žobrÄƒzniciaâ€ regelui, spuse: â€“ Evident cÄƒ nu-i aici! Noi am decis sÄƒ vÄƒ capturÄƒm ca sÄƒ vÄƒ oferim lui, drept cadou, hehea! MÃ¢ine sau poimÃ¢ine o sÄƒ aparÄƒ È™i el. Ar trebui sÄƒ te rogi sÄƒ mai Ã®ntÃ¢rzie. ÃŽn ziua Ã®n care el va veni, voi trei o sÄƒ fiÈ›i executaÈ›i public! Haha! SÄƒ vedem atunci ce-o sÄƒ ne mai distrÄƒm noi! Hahaha! Soris se Ã®ngrijorÄƒ mai tare: â€žÈ˜i deci, doar faptul cÄƒ stÄƒpÃ¢nul lor nu e aici i-a È›inut sÄƒ nu ne omoare deja... Nebunii ÄƒÈ™tia chiar par sÄƒ deÈ›inÄƒ controlul! Nu È™tiu cum de-au reuÈ™it sÄƒ otrÄƒveascÄƒ Ã®ntreg palatul. Ah, unde eÈ™ti Waltario? Chiar aÈ™a o sÄƒ sfÃ¢rÈ™im?!â€ Selunia Ã®mpinse delicat uÈ™a la loc. ÃŽÈ™i È›inu respiraÈ›ia de teamÄƒ sÄƒ nu facÄƒ vreun zgomot. Din acest motiv nu o mai Ã®nchise complet, ci o lÄƒsÄƒ aÈ™a, cÃ¢t sÄƒ parÄƒ Ã®nchisÄƒ. Prinse toarta gÄƒleÈ›ii cu ambele mÃ¢ini, pentru mai multÄƒ siguranÈ›Äƒ, apoi, se rÄƒsuci Ã®ncet Ã®n loc È™i pÄƒÈ™i cu grijÄƒ sporitÄƒ spre scarÄƒ. ÃŽi pÄƒrea bine cÄƒ bardanii vorbeau necontenit, cÄƒ Ã®i acoperea foÈ™netul hainelor care, cel puÈ›in pentru urechile ei, se auzea tare. Costumul de soldat nu Ã®i plÄƒcuse de la bun Ã®nceput, Ã®nsÄƒ acum chiar o enerva. Avea impresia cÄƒ Ã®i Ã®mpiedica miÈ™cÄƒrile, cÄƒ-i Ã®ngreuna coordonarea Ã®n spaÈ›iu È™i cÄƒ transpira mult din cauza lui, nu a emoÈ›iilor. Abia aÈ™tepta sÄƒ ajungÄƒ odatÄƒ lÃ¢ngÄƒ trepte, dar parcÄƒ dura o eternitate. Regele nu mai spuse nimic. ÃŽi privi pe rÃ¢nd, pe fiecare â€žcuceritorâ€ Ã®n parte, cum comentau batjocoritor viitoarea presupusÄƒ moarte a familiei lui. Regina era dezgustatÄƒ de toate manifestÄƒrile lor sÄƒlbatice. Era prima oarÄƒ cÃ¢nd un oponent reuÈ™ise sÄƒ pÄƒtrundÄƒ pÃ¢nÄƒ Ã®n palat. ÃŽncÄƒ nu Ã®i venea a crede cÄƒ era adevÄƒrat ce vedea. ÃŽncepea din nou sÄƒ regrete cÄƒ ajunsese reginÄƒ Ã®ntr-un asemenea regat. De cÃ¢nd venise aici, ea nu avusese parte de prea multÄƒ liniÈ™te. Iar acum È™edea Ã®ngenuncheatÄƒ Ã®n faÈ›a unor barbari, ce gÄƒseau plÄƒcere Ã®n execuÈ›ia ei È™i a lui Soris. Oare chiar aÈ™a avea sÄƒ se Ã®ntÃ¢mple? Leido, È›inÃ¢nd degetul arÄƒtÄƒtor ridicat Ã®n aer, reluÄƒ: â€“ O singurÄƒ vrajÄƒ a fost necesarÄƒ ca sÄƒ vÄƒ punem jos, la picioarele noastre! Una singurÄƒ È™i i-am rÄƒpus pe cei mai buni luptÄƒtori din renumitul Regat Arid! Hahahaha! â€“ È˜i asta numai datoritÄƒ mie, comentÄƒ Ã®ncet Vittria, retrÄƒgÃ¢ndu-se lÃ¢ngÄƒ â€žpremiulâ€ ei. Soris se crispÄƒ. DeÈ™i era ruÈ™inos pentru el, lui Ã®i era groazÄƒ de ea. Nu putea sÄƒ nu recunoascÄƒ aceasta. Nu avusese niciodatÄƒ de a face, Ã®n captivitate, cu o astfel de femeie care sÄƒ se manifeste atÃ¢t de uÈ™uratic. Pentru el, avansurile ei ostentative atentau direct la onoarea È™i stima sa de sine. ÃŽi simÈ›i din nou mÃ¢inile pe umeri. Ar fi vrut sÄƒ-l cheme Ã®napoi pe bardanul care Ã®l ameninÈ›ase cu un cuÈ›it mai devreme. Acela i se pÄƒrea ceva mai acceptabil acum. ÃŽnchise ochii pentru o clipÄƒ, gÃ¢ndind: â€žAÈ™a ceva e mai mult decÃ¢t pot Ã®ndura. De ce trebuie ca eu sÄƒ trec printr-o asemenea umilinÈ›Äƒ? Rog, cineva sÄƒ mÄƒ salveze!â€ Selunia aÈ™ezÄƒ, Ã®n sfÃ¢rÈ™it, gÄƒleata pe podeaua din marmurÄƒ. RÄƒsuflÄƒ cÃ¢t putu ea de Ã®ncet, mulÈ›umitÄƒ cÄƒ a Ã®ncheiat activitatea ce ei i se pÄƒrea a fi cea mai grea. â€žAm ajuns Ã®n locul de atac fÄƒrÄƒ sÄƒ fiu observatÄƒ de nimeni. Bun. De aici Ã®ncepe partea la care eu mÄƒ pricep cel mai bine.â€ gÃ¢ndi ea punÃ¢ndu-se Ã®n genunchi. ÃŽÈ™i scoase mÄƒnuÈ™ile de soldat, Ã®È™i sumese mÃ¢necile lungi ale costumului, apoi Ã®È™i inserÄƒ mÃ¢inile Ã®n apa din gÄƒleatÄƒ. Era rece È™i murdarÄƒ, Ã®nsÄƒ nu era timp pentru mofturi. Fiecare minut era preÈ›ios. AruncÄƒ iar o privire asupra poziÈ›iei bardanilor Ã®n salÄƒ. UrmÄƒrea sÄƒ atace numai o anumitÄƒ porÈ›iune din ei. Se concentrÄƒ asupra mÄƒnuÈ™ilor-cristal ce Ã®ncepurÄƒ sÄƒ emitÄƒ o luminÄƒ galbenÄƒ, neuniformÄƒ. DÃ¢re lungi, energetice, se rÄƒsfrÃ¢nserÄƒ Ã®n Ã®ntreaga cantitate de lichid, asemenea unei cerneli. Unde line se lovirÄƒ uÈ™or de pereÈ›ii gÄƒleÈ›ii din lemn. Cinci È™iroaie subÈ›iri ieÈ™irÄƒ din amestecul neomogen â€“ de apÄƒ tulbure È™i energie galbenÄƒ â€“ urcarÄƒ pÃ¢nÄƒ pe margine, dÄƒdurÄƒ peste, alunecarÄƒ Ã®n jos È™i atinserÄƒ podeaua. De aici, ele se strecurarÄƒ printre plÄƒcile de marmurÄƒ, prin rosturile dintre acestea, È™i Ã®naintarÄƒ, fÄƒrÄƒ niciun zgomot, cÄƒtre grupul de bardani vizat. PÄƒrea cÄƒ apa era vie, cÄƒ mergea din proprie iniÈ›iativÄƒ, Ã®nsÄƒ totul era controlat, de fapt, de ochii Seluniei. È˜iroaiele Ã®naintau Ã®ncet È™i lin, asemenea mercurului, energia din ele estompÃ¢ndu-se pe parcurs. Selunia nu voia sÄƒ atragÄƒ atenÈ›ia cu lumina lor. La un pas distanÈ›Äƒ de primul inamic din cale, ea opri mersul lor pentru o clipÄƒ. Le direcÈ›ionÄƒ Ã®n aÈ™a fel Ã®ncÃ¢t, unindu-se, sÄƒ Ã®nconjoare ceata urmÄƒritÄƒ. â€žO sÄƒ-i atac numai pe cei care nu stau prea aproape de membrii familiei regale. Nu vreau sÄƒ risc prea mult. Familia regalÄƒ trebuie feritÄƒ cu orice preÈ›. Pe ceilalÈ›i o sÄƒ-i dobor eu cu alte trucuri simple, cÃ¢nd vor veni spre mine. Nu-mi rÄƒmÃ¢n decÃ¢t femeia aia linguÈ™itoare, bÄƒrbatul acela lÄƒudÄƒros din faÈ›a regelui È™i Ã®ncÄƒ vreo doi-trei. O sÄƒ mÄƒ descurc eu. Ce bine cÄƒ toÈ›i stau atenÈ›i numai la captura lor. Habar n-au ce-i paÈ™te...â€ ÃŽncheie, cu privirea, un pÄƒtrat imaginar Ã®n jurul grupului de bardani. Apa energeticÄƒ Ã®i urmÄƒ coordonarea Ã®ntocmai. Selunia Ã®È™i scoase mÃ¢inile din gÄƒleata golitÄƒ. Capetele a zece È™iroaie, desprinse din cele cinci, erau agÄƒÈ›ate de vÃ¢rfurile degetelor ei. ÃŽÈ™i aÈ™ezÄƒ mÃ¢inile pe podea. Nici ea nu putea zÄƒri Ã®ntreaga formaÈ›iune de apÄƒ, Ã®nsÄƒ era convinsÄƒ cÄƒ se plasase corect. PÄƒtratul se alcÄƒtuise Ã®n funcÈ›ie de ordinea Ã®n care ea Ã®È™i privise inamicii. CÃ¢nd dÃ¢rele ajunseserÄƒ Ã®ntr-o formÄƒ Ã®nchisÄƒ, lumina din palmele ei s-a diminuat, semn cÄƒ totul era gata de atac. RÄƒsuflÄƒ puÈ›in uÈ™uratÄƒ. Aproape cÄƒ uitase sÄƒ mai respire din cauza concentrÄƒrii prea atente asupra firelor de apÄƒ. SimÈ›ea cum transpiraÈ›ia Ã®i curgea pe frunte. Era Ã®ncÄƒ foarte Ã®ncordatÄƒ. â€žAcum ar trebui doar sÄƒ mai alimentez un pic pÃ¢nza de apÄƒ, cu energie, ca sÄƒ fiu sigurÄƒ cÄƒ-i va ameÈ›i bine...â€ InspirÄƒ adÃ¢nc È™i se concentrÄƒ mai abitir la mÄƒnuÈ™ile ei. Acestea se aprinserÄƒ È™i trimiserÄƒ curentul energetic, mai departe, Ã®n È™iroaiele de lichid. Bardanii nu bÄƒnuiau nimic. O parte era atentÄƒ la oratoria lui Leido, iar cealaltÄƒ urmÄƒrea supÄƒratÄƒ cum Vittria Ã®l dezmierda pe Soris. CÃ¢nd È™i cÃ¢nd, unul nu se mai abÈ›inea È™i Ã®i fÄƒcea cÃ¢te o observaÈ›ie ca sÄƒ o deranjeze. Soris le era recunoscÄƒtor pentru aceasta. DeodatÄƒ, uÈ™a principalÄƒ a sÄƒlii fu trÃ¢ntitÄƒ brusc de perete, fÄƒcÃ¢nd pe toatÄƒ lumea sÄƒ tresarÄƒ. ÃŽnÄƒuntru se ivi alergÃ¢nd un confrate de-al lor â€“ era primul bardan pe care Selunia Ã®l Ã®ntÃ¢lnise afarÄƒ. â€žAh! Am crezut cÄƒ toÈ›i au rÄƒmas Ã®nÄƒuntru!â€ exclamÄƒ ea Ã®ngrozitÄƒ, Ã®n gÃ¢nd, lipindu-se cu un umÄƒr de peretele scÄƒrii. Spera sÄƒ nu fie observatÄƒ. MÃ¢inile È™i le menÈ›inu Ã®n contact cu podeaua. Noul venit urlÄƒ spre ai lui: â€“ LipseÈ™te un soldat din curte! LipseÈ™te un soldat! I-am numÄƒrat eu pe toÈ›i Ã®nainte, de cÃ¢teva ori, iar acum unul e lipsÄƒ! Bardanii se Ã®ntoarserÄƒ alertaÈ›i, cu faÈ›a spre el. Unul Ã®l Ã®ntrebÄƒ: â€“ EÈ™ti sigur? â€“ Foarte sigur! LipseÈ™te chiar unul din faÈ›a palatului! Selunia Ã®ncremeni de fricÄƒ. Un fior rece Ã®i traversÄƒ tot trupul, de parcÄƒ ar fi fost deja identificatÄƒ. â€žAh, nu! Blestematul!â€ Ã®njurÄƒ ea. â€žNu mai e timp! Trebuie sÄƒ atac!â€ O speranÈ›Äƒ mult aÈ™teptatÄƒ se nÄƒscu Ã®n sufletele membrilor familiei regale. ToÈ›i trei aveau un singur gÃ¢nd: â€žWaltario! El trebuie sÄƒ fie!â€ Vittria se rÄƒsuci Ã®n loc. Cu ochii ei vigilenÈ›i remarcÄƒ dÃ¢ra umedÄƒ de pe jos. â€“ Ce-i asta? Ã®ntrebÄƒ ea indicÃ¢nd cu toiagul ei. Selunia strÃ¢nse pleoapele pentru o clipÄƒ. â€žAcum! Fie ce-o fi!â€ ÃŽÈ™i trase rapid o mÃ¢nÄƒ peste cealaltÄƒ, Ã®nspre ea, realizÃ¢nd un â€žXâ€ cu dÃ¢rele de apÄƒ â€“ aninate de vÃ¢rfurile degetelor ei ca niÈ™te aÈ›e. Instantaneu, apa, ce Ã®i Ã®nconjura pe bardani, se despicÄƒ Ã®n nenumÄƒrate fire, formÃ¢nd o È›esÄƒturÄƒ cristalinÄƒ sub picioarele lor. Selunia Ã®È™i ridicÄƒ repede mÃ¢inile, pÃ¢nÄƒ deasupra capului, apoi lovi cu putere marmura podelei. Cu un vuiet ca de cascadÄƒ, apa de sub inamici È›Ã¢È™ni spectaculos Ã®n aer, Ã®n jeturi, ca o multitudine de fÃ¢ntÃ¢ni arteziene. Acestea induserÄƒ È™ocuri electrice Ã®n tot ce cuprinserÄƒ Bardanii fuseserÄƒ È™ocaÈ›i de acest atac-surprizÄƒ. Abia dacÄƒ avuseserÄƒ timp sÄƒ se mire o clipÄƒ de acele È™iroaie de apÄƒ, ce-i Ã®nconjuraserÄƒ pe neaÈ™teptate, Ã®nainte sÄƒ intre Ã®n stare de inconÈ™tienÈ›Äƒ. Chinul lor È™i spectacolul de jeturi luminoase, electrocutante, nu durÄƒ mai mult de cinci secunde. Apa, desfÄƒÈ™uratÄƒ pe verticalÄƒ Ã®n mÄƒrgele cristaline, picÄƒ pe podea asemenea unei ploi scurte, urmatÄƒ fiind de cÄƒderile zgomotoase ale trupurilor celor atacaÈ›i. Vittria, Leido È™i toÈ›i ceilalÈ›i martori la eveniment rÄƒmaserÄƒ gurÄƒ-cascÄƒ pentru cÃ¢teva momente. Oare cine a fusese capabil sÄƒ facÄƒ aÈ™a ceva? Soris, regele È™i regina Ardensis, deÈ™i nu Ã®È™i puteau explica un asemenea atac miraculos, erau ferm convinÈ™i cÄƒ Waltario orchestrase aceastÄƒ miÈ™care. Selunia era acum mai tensionatÄƒ ca niciodatÄƒ. Urma sÄƒ se Ã®ntÃ¢lneascÄƒ faÈ›Äƒ Ã®n faÈ›Äƒ cu inamicii rÄƒmaÈ™i. Era ea oare suficient de pregÄƒtitÄƒ sÄƒ-i Ã®nfrunte? CAPITOLUL 7 AfarÄƒ, la aproximativ douÄƒ sute de metri distanÈ›Äƒ de curtea regalÄƒ, generalul Waltario, Ã®mpreunÄƒ cu cÃ¢È›iva soldaÈ›i, se afla Ã®n grabÄƒ spre drumul de Ã®ntoarcere, Ã®ntr-o maÈ™inÄƒ militarÄƒ. AvuseserÄƒ multe defecÈ›iuni de reparat la turnul de supraveghere. Generalul presimÈ›ea cÄƒ ceva era Ã®n neregulÄƒ la palat. Abia acum Ã®ncepea sÄƒ bÄƒnuiascÄƒ o capcanÄƒ. Poate cineva ar fi vrut sÄƒ-l È›inÄƒ pe el departe de curtea regalÄƒ. ÃŽi avertizÄƒ pe soldaÈ›ii sÄƒi de Ã®ncredere sÄƒ fie pregÄƒtiÈ›i de orice cÃ¢nd vor sosi la destinaÈ›ie. ÃŽncepea sÄƒ regrete cÄƒ nu plecase mai devreme. Era frÄƒmÃ¢ntat de griji. MaÈ™ina se opri la cÃ¢È›iva metri de curte. AÈ™tepta ca paznicii sÄƒ deschidÄƒ porÈ›ile mari de fier. DinÄƒuntru, sub luminile mari ale farurilor, nu se vedea nicio miÈ™care. SoldaÈ›ii intrarÄƒ Ã®n alertÄƒ. Era foarte ciudat È™i suspect cÄƒ nimeni nu venise sÄƒ le verifice identitatea, ca mai apoi, sÄƒ le permitÄƒ intrarea. È˜oferul ar fi vrut sÄƒ claxoneze, Ã®nsÄƒ Waltario Ã®l opri. ÃŽi fÄƒcu semn sÄƒ pÄƒstreze liniÈ™tea. Poate cÄƒ inamicul tocmai aceasta aÈ™tepta: un semn al venirii lor. ToÈ›i soldaÈ›ii, urmaÈ›i de general, ieÈ™irÄƒ cu precauÈ›ie din maÈ™inÄƒ. Era o liniÈ™te deranjantÄƒ. Doi soldaÈ›i se apropiarÄƒ de porÈ›i pentru a inspecta starea din curte. ÃŽÈ™i vÄƒzurÄƒ camarazii Ã®ntinÈ™i pe jos sau sprijiniÈ›i de gard, ca morÈ›i. Fac semn de urgenÈ›Äƒ cÄƒtre general, apoi dau sÄƒ intre. Abia Ã®È™i puserÄƒ mÃ¢inile pe barele porÈ›ilor, cÄƒ È™i cÄƒzurÄƒ la pÄƒmÃ¢nt, ca seceraÈ›i de o forÈ›Äƒ invizibilÄƒ. Waltario È™i soldaÈ›ii rÄƒmaÈ™i Ã®ncremenesc de fricÄƒ. Cei doi fuseserÄƒ rÄƒpuÈ™i fÄƒrÄƒ sÄƒ se audÄƒ vreun zgomot. Nu mai Ã®ncÄƒpea Ã®ndoialÄƒ acum: palatul fusese cu adevÄƒrat atacat. Dar de ce nu ieÈ™ea nimeni sÄƒ Ã®i Ã®ntÃ¢mpine? CÃ¢È›iva soldaÈ›i Ã®È™i fÄƒcurÄƒ curaj È™i merserÄƒ dupÄƒ cei doi sÄƒ le verifice starea. Apropiindu-se Ã®nsÄƒ prea mult de poartÄƒ, sfÃ¢rÈ™irÄƒ la fel ca ei. ÃŽn cele din urmÄƒ, generalul nu mai rÄƒmase decÃ¢t cu trei soldaÈ›i. Nu mai putea risca sÄƒ trimitÄƒ pe nimeni. Cei trei aÈ™teaptau neliniÈ™tiÈ›i o comandÄƒ din partea lui. El tÄƒcu. Privi Ã®nmÄƒrmurit palatul. Nu-i venea a crede ce se Ã®ntÃ¢mpla. Era conÈ™tient cÄƒ era ceva ce depÄƒÈ™ea capacitÄƒÈ›ile lui È™i ale armatei sale. Uimirea lui nu È›inea numai de ceea ce vedea Ã®n prezent, ci È™i de un eveniment recent. â€žInerishia... Inerishia a avut dreptate.â€ exclamÄƒ el, Ã®n sinea sa, amintindu-È™i de vizita neaÈ™teptatÄƒ din urmÄƒ cu cÃ¢teva zile. ÃŽntr-o dupÄƒ-amiazÄƒ, el se afla Ã®n atelierul sÄƒu, Ã®ncercÃ¢nd, ca de obicei, sÄƒ ordoneze obiectele de pe una din mesele sale de lucru, cÃ¢nd, deodatÄƒ, a auzit uÈ™a deschizÃ¢ndu-se Ã®ncet. PaÈ™i misterioÈ™i coborÃ¢rÄƒ alene treptele din interior. ÃŽntorcÃ¢ndu-se sÄƒ vadÄƒ cine a intrat aÈ™a de silenÈ›ios È™i suspect, el observÄƒ o persoanÄƒ de staturÄƒ medie, Ã®mbrÄƒcatÄƒ Ã®ntr-o robÄƒ grena, lungÄƒ, cu glugÄƒ. Nu Ã®È™i putu da seama din prima dacÄƒ era vorba de o femeie sau un bÄƒrbat. Numai buzele Ã®i erau lÄƒsate sÄƒ se vadÄƒ. Aveau un zÃ¢mbet subtil È™i o culoare corai deschis. Generalul le recunoscu imediat. â€“ ÃŽncÃ¢ntatÄƒ sÄƒ te revÄƒd, Waltario, sparse ea liniÈ™tea cu o voce relaxatÄƒ. A trecut ceva vreme de cÃ¢nd am vorbit ultima oarÄƒ... Uluit de vizita ei neanunÈ›atÄƒ, generalul scÄƒpÄƒ din mÃ¢nÄƒ o cutie micÄƒ. Aceasta picÄƒ pe masÄƒ, lÄƒsÃ¢nd sÄƒ se audÄƒ un zornÄƒit ascuÈ›it al unor obiecte metalice, mici, din interior. â€“ Inerishia... Tu eÈ™ti, Inerishia, nu-i aÈ™a? reuÈ™i el sÄƒ o Ã®ntrebe cu un chip temÄƒtor. Femeia Ã®i zÃ¢mbi Ã®n timp ce se apropie de biroul lui. â€“ Da. Eu sunt, generale. Te rog sÄƒ mÄƒ ierÈ›i cÄƒ am venit aÈ™a, pe furiÈ™. Presupun cÄƒ Ã®nÈ›elegi cÄƒ nu aÈ™ fi fÄƒcut asta fÄƒrÄƒ un motiv bine Ã®ntemeiat, Ã®i spuse ea cu un zÃ¢mbet ironic, plin de subÃ®nÈ›eles. Waltario Ã®È™i lÄƒsÄƒ puÈ›in ochii Ã®ntr-o parte, simÈ›indu-se cu musca pe cÄƒciulÄƒ. BÄƒnuia de ce venise la el. È˜tia cÄƒ discuÈ›ia va ajunge Ã®ntr-un punct la care el nu va putea da vreun rÄƒspuns. Inerishia cercetÄƒ plictisitÄƒ cÃ¢teva lucruri de pe masÄƒ, apoi zise: â€“ Trebuia sÄƒ vin sÄƒ verific dacÄƒ mai eÈ™ti Ã®n viaÈ›Äƒ. ÃŽncepusem sÄƒ intru Ã®n panicÄƒ. Èši-am trimis atÃ¢tea scrisori, iar tu nu ai luat nicio acÈ›iune. DupÄƒ cÃ¢te Ã®mi spune faÈ›a ta surprinsÄƒ, Ã®nÈ›eleg cÄƒ scrisorile au ajuns la tine... Waltario oftÄƒ. ÃŽÈ™i reveni Ã®n fire, apoi se uitÄƒ lung la ea. Inerishia Ã®i zise amuzatÄƒ: â€“ Nu te uita aÈ™a la mine. SÄƒ È™tii cÄƒ gluga asta o port ca tu sÄƒ nu mÄƒ vezi pe mine, È™i nu invers. Eu te vÄƒd foarte bine prin ea. O port ca tu sÄƒ nu fii surprins cÄƒ, dupÄƒ atÃ¢È›ia ani, eu am rÄƒmas la fel, Ã®n timp ce tu, se vede cÄƒ ai mai Ã®naintat Ã®n vÃ¢rstÄƒ... Hee, aÈ™a suntem noi, cei de la Cetate. ReuÈ™im sÄƒ trÄƒim mult mai mult decÃ¢t voi... dar, bineÃ®nÈ›eles, nu-i uÈ™or de ajuns Ã®n stadiul Äƒsta. ÃŽn fine. Pot sÄƒ È™tiu È™i eu de ce n-ai adus-o pe fiica mea aici? Waltario tresÄƒri. Era conÈ™tient cÄƒ avea sÄƒ Ã®l Ã®ntrebe aceasta, Ã®nsÄƒ nu se aÈ™tepta sÄƒ punÄƒ Ã®ntrebarea aÈ™a de repede, aÈ™a de direct. RÄƒmase tÄƒcut pentru cÃ¢teva secunde. Inerishia Ã®È™i Ã®ncruciÈ™Äƒ braÈ›ele. AÈ™teptÄƒ teatral rÄƒspunsul lui. RepetÄƒ ameninÈ›Äƒtor: â€“ De ce nu ai adus-o pe Selunia aici, pÃ¢nÄƒ acum? â€“ ...Era periculos. È˜tii bine cÄƒ am fost Ã®n rÄƒzboi, Ã®ngÄƒimÄƒ el incert. Inerishia surÃ¢se Ã®n sinea ei, apoi spuse: â€“ Vrei sÄƒ spui cÄƒ era periculos pentru regatul tÄƒu sÄƒ o aduci aici, nu pentru fiica mea, de fapt, nu-i aÈ™a? â€“ ...Nu... â€“ Heee, lasÄƒ cÄƒ te È™tiu eu. Èšie nu Ã®È›i pasÄƒ decÃ¢t de palatul Äƒsta È™i atÃ¢t. Nu e de mirare cÄƒ soÈ›ia ta a divorÈ›at de tine aÈ™a de repede. Inerishia tÄƒcu lung, pentru aproape un minut. Waltario, simÈ›ind cÄƒ aceastÄƒ tÄƒcere Ã®l apasÄƒ, ridicÄƒ ochii la ea È™i Ã®ntrebÄƒ: â€“ Ce este? â€“ Hmmm, nimic. Doar mÄƒ bucuram cÄƒ soÈ›ul meu nu e ca tine, rÄƒspunse ea, relaxat. RÃ¢serÄƒ amÃ¢ndoi. El È™tia cÄƒ atunci, cÃ¢nd Ã®ncepea sÄƒ Ã®È™i laude soÈ›ul, Ã®nsemna cÄƒ era Ã®n toane bune. Era surprins totuÈ™i sÄƒ remarce cÄƒ, dupÄƒ atÃ¢È›ia ani, ea Ã®ncÄƒ trÄƒia cu ideea cÄƒ nu existÄƒ un bÄƒrbat mai bun decÃ¢t al ei. ÃŽn fiecare persoanÄƒ ea gÄƒsea cÃ¢te un defect pe care soÈ›ul ei nu Ã®l avea. â€“ Ce mai face soÈ›ul tÄƒu? Ã®ntrebÄƒ el, ca sÄƒ o mai Ã®mbuneze. â€“ E bine, e bine. Cred cÄƒ e chiar fericit. DupÄƒ douÄƒ ore Ã®n care ne-am certat care sÄƒ rÄƒmÃ¢nÄƒ Ã®n misiune, care sÄƒ meargÄƒ sÄƒ discute cu tine, el a ieÈ™it Ã®nvingÄƒtor, din nou. Nu am reuÈ™it niciodatÄƒ pÃ¢nÄƒ acum sÄƒ-l conving sÄƒ mÄƒ lase pe mine singurÄƒ Ã®n vreo misiune. Dar nu-i nimic. Mai am timp destul sÄƒ mai Ã®ncerc. Nu mÄƒ dau bÄƒtutÄƒ aÈ™a de uÈ™or. RÃ¢serÄƒ amÃ¢ndoi iarÄƒÈ™i. DupÄƒ ce se liniÈ™tirÄƒ, Inerishia luÄƒ un chip serios È™i spuse: â€“ ÃŽn fine, sÄƒ revenim la ce spuneam mai Ã®nainte. Generale Waltario, acum este ultima oarÄƒ cÃ¢nd te rog sÄƒ o aduci pe fiica mea aici. â€“ Dar de ce nu vrei sÄƒ o laÈ™i la Cetatea AlbÄƒ ? Acolo e mult mai bine... â€“ Acolo nu este locul ei, Ã®i rÄƒspunse ea ferm, nevrÃ¢nd sÄƒ intre Ã®n detalii. Inerishia se plimbÄƒ alene prin atelier. AdmirÄƒ obiectele din jur. ReluÄƒ: â€“ Am venit direct la tine, fÄƒrÄƒ sÄƒ-È›i mai trimit scrisoare, deoarece am ceva important sÄƒ-È›i spun. ÃŽÈ›i cer sÄƒ o aduci aici pe Selunia, nu numai pentru cÄƒ aÈ™a consider eu cÄƒ ar fi mai bine pentru ea, ci È™i pentru cÄƒ ea va putea ajuta acest palat. È˜tii bine cÄƒ mÄƒ pricep la previziuni. De curÃ¢nd am avut o previziune. Palatul Aridenilor va intra Ã®n impas Ã®n viitorul apropiat; se va confrunta cu ceva nemaivÄƒzut Ã®n acest regat. S-ar putea ca totul sÄƒ se schimbe radical, iar conducerea curentÄƒ sÄƒ disparÄƒ. Se Ã®ntoarse cu faÈ›a la Waltario. â€“ È˜tiu bine cÄƒ tu nu vrei asta. Sper cÄƒ Ã®nÈ›elegi cÄƒ acum vorbesc la modul cel mai serios. Decizia ta de a o aduce sau nu aici pe Selunia, s-ar putea sÄƒ influenÈ›eze enorm soarta acestui regat. Waltario se Ã®ncruntÄƒ uÈ™or, neÃ®ncrezÄƒtor. â€“ Dar de ce crezi tu cÄƒ Selunia va fi cea care ne poate ajuta? â€“ Poate cÄƒ ea nu are nici mÄƒcar jumÄƒtate din puterile mele, Ã®nsÄƒ abilitÄƒÈ›ile ei curente sunt mult mai ridicate decÃ¢t cele ale armatei tale. Genul de problemÄƒ pe care l-am presimÈ›it este, oarecum, similar cu cel de la Cetatea AlbÄƒ. O sÄƒ aveÈ›i nevoie sÄƒ colaboraÈ›i cu cetatea noastrÄƒ, Ã®nsÄƒ asta este aproape imposibil. Selunia este singura persoanÄƒ pe care Cetatea va accepta sÄƒ o lase sÄƒ plece la voi. â€“ De ce? Ã®ntrebÄƒ Waltario curios. â€“ Hee, circumstanÈ›ele sunt de o asemenea naturÄƒ... Probabil cÄƒ acesta este destinul ei, spuse ea, gÃ¢nditoare. Waltario o privi lung, bÄƒnuitor, apoi zise: â€“ Cumva, ai inventat tu povestea asta cu previziunea? â€“ Previziunile mele nu sunt invenÈ›ii, ci lucruri care chiar urmeazÄƒ sÄƒ se Ã®ntÃ¢mple. PÃ¢nÄƒ acum, nici una nu a fost greÈ™itÄƒ sau nu a avut mÄƒcar un sÃ¢mbure de adevÄƒr. Am venit sÄƒ te anunÈ›, deoarece, Ã®ntr-o oarecare mÄƒsurÄƒ, schimbÄƒrile de aici pot afecta È™i Cetatea AlbÄƒ. Waltario, observ cÄƒ pui la Ã®ndoialÄƒ vorbele mele. Te gÃ¢ndeÈ™ti cÄƒ am spus asta doar ca sÄƒ te forÈ›ez sÄƒ o aduci pe Selunia aici, deoarece È™tiu cÄƒ tu nu faci nimic din ce nu aduce vreun beneficiu regatului. Ei bine, nu este ceea ce crezi tu. ÃŽn mod normal, eu nu am timp de stat de vorbÄƒ ca sÄƒ te conving pe tine. Deci, repet: regatul o sÄƒ fie Ã®n primejdie foarte curÃ¢nd. Adu-o pe Selunia dacÄƒ vrei sÄƒ ai o È™ansÄƒ de scÄƒpare. Cu asta am Ã®ncheiat discuÈ›ia. De acum Ã®ncolo, totul depinde de decizia ta. Generalul rÄƒmase pe gÃ¢nduri. Inerishia dÄƒdu sÄƒ plece, cÃ¢nd se opri puÈ›in Ã®n dreptul canapelei. RidicÄƒ un smoc de pÄƒr scurt de pe o pernÄƒ. Se uitÄƒ spre Waltario: â€“ Èši-ai luat cÄƒÈ›el? â€“ Nu, acela e pÄƒrul prinÈ›ului Soris, rÄƒspunse Waltario rÃ¢zÃ¢nd. ObiÈ™nuieÈ™te sÄƒ vinÄƒ des pe aici È™i sÄƒ doarmÄƒ. Inerishia rÃ¢se È™i ea, puse la loc smocul de pÄƒr, apoi spuse Ã®n timp ce pleaca: â€“ ÃŽnseamnÄƒ cÄƒ prinÈ›ul e drÄƒguÈ›. Revenind Ã®n prezent, Waltario oftÄƒ din nou Ã®ndelung. Privi Ã®ntreaga curte regalÄƒ cum stÄƒtea sinistru de tÄƒcutÄƒ, ca lovitÄƒ de molimÄƒ. â€žOare eu chiar nu mai pot face nimic acum? SperanÈ›a rÄƒmÃ¢ne numai Ã®n acÈ›iunile Seluniei? Oare ce face ea acum?â€ se Ã®ntrebÄƒ el Ã®ngrijorat. * Vittria, fiind prima care ieÈ™i din starea de È™oc, alergÄƒ nervoasÄƒ spre sursa atacului. Era tare nerÄƒbdÄƒtoare sÄƒ-l Ã®ntÃ¢lneascÄƒ pe cel ce Ã®i stricase ei â€žjoacaâ€. Selunia se ridicÄƒ repede din ascunziÈ™ul ei. ÃŽÈ™i Ã®ntinse braÈ›ele Ã®n lateral trÄƒgÃ¢nd de firele fluide. È˜iroaiele se retraserÄƒ spre mÃ¢inile ei Ã®ntr-o clipÄƒ, precum marea Ã®n reflux. FormarÄƒ douÄƒ sfere instabile Ã®n dreptul palmelor ei. Acestea se rÄƒsucirÄƒ Ã®ntr-un vÃ¢rtej continuu pentru a-È™i menÈ›ine forma relativ sfericÄƒ. AjungÃ¢nd la cÃ¢È›iva metri distanÈ›Äƒ de Selunia, Vittria Ã®È™i ridicÄƒ toiagul, gata sÄƒ lanseze un atac. Selunia Ã®È™i concentrÄƒ puterile Ã®n mÃ¢na dreaptÄƒ, Ã®ncÄƒrcÃ¢nd, cu energia mÄƒnuÈ™ilor-cristal, unul din globuri. Piatra magicÄƒ a Vittriei se aprinse ameninÈ›Äƒtor. ÃŽntr-o clipÄƒ urma sÄƒ atace. Selunia azvÃ¢rli repede globul â€ženergizatâ€ asupra vrÄƒjitoarei. Vittria cu furie realizÄƒ cÄƒ nu mai poate lovi Ã®n acest moment. ÃŽÈ™i cuprinse Ã®n grabÄƒ toiagul, cu ambele mÃ¢ini, Ã®l trase dinaintea ei È™i transformÄƒ lumina pietrei Ã®n protecÈ›ie. CreÄƒ un scut transparent, rotund, roÈ™iatic. Sfera apoasÄƒ se â€žsparseâ€ izbindu-se de scutul temporar. Selunia ar fi vrut sÄƒ arunce È™i cel de-al doilea glob, pentru a-i slÄƒbi È™i mai mult puterile Vittriei. A-È›i face protecÈ›ie energeticÄƒ nu era chiar greu, Ã®nsÄƒ consuma multÄƒ energie. VÄƒzÃ¢nd cum Ã®n spatele vrÄƒjitoarei se adunÄƒ restul bardanilor, Ã®n frunte cu Leido, È™i cum se pregÄƒtesc sÄƒ tragÄƒ asupra ei cu armele lor mari, metalice, ea renunÈ›Äƒ la aceastÄƒ idee. â€žAh! ParcÄƒ trebuia sÄƒ fie mai puÈ›ini!â€ ÃŽÈ™i mutÄƒ globul rÄƒmas, Ã®n mÃ¢na dreaptÄƒ. ÃŽl aruncÄƒ Ã®n sus, apoi repede Ã®È™i Ã®ntinse mÃ¢inile Ã®n faÈ›Äƒ. DÄƒdu drumul unui flux mare de energie albÄƒ sÄƒ È›Ã¢È™neascÄƒ din mÄƒnuÈ™ile-cristal. CÃ¢nd globul Ã®n cÄƒdere ajunse Ã®n contact cu acest flux, plesni Ã®n ace multiple. Acestea se nÄƒpustirÄƒ asupra inamicilor precum un val de sÄƒgeÈ›i. Vittria reuÈ™i sÄƒ Ã®l apere È™i pe Leido cu scutul ei. CeilalÈ›i Ã®ncercarÄƒ sÄƒ se fereascÄƒ fiecare cum putu. PicarÄƒ Ã®n cele din urmÄƒ, rÄƒpuÈ™i de durere. Multitudinea de ace Ã®i tÄƒiase pe picioare, pe mÃ¢ini È™i pe spate, cauzÃ¢ndu-le usturimi ca de arsuri adÃ¢nci. RÄƒmaserÄƒ pe jos, vÄƒitÃ¢ndu-se de rÄƒni. Selunia ezitÄƒ pentru o secundÄƒ. Ea Ã®È™i alcÄƒtuise planul numai pÃ¢nÄƒ aici. Acum trebuia sÄƒ se decidÄƒ cu ce sÄƒ atace Ã®n continuare, deoarece nu putea sÄƒ refoloseascÄƒ apa Ã®mprÄƒÈ™tiatÄƒ pretutindeni. â€žCu lanÈ› sau cu glonÈ›?â€ se Ã®ntrebÄƒ ea, agitatÄƒ. Acest moment de indecizie fu Ã®n dezavantajul ei. OponenÈ›ii avurÄƒ prilej sÄƒ o atace. Leido lansÄƒ dintr-o puÈ™cÄƒ mare, paralelipipedicÄƒ, un proiectil exploziv. Vittria trasÄƒ rapid o lamÄƒ energeticÄƒ, pe verticalÄƒ, Ã®n aer, cu piatra din vÃ¢rful toiagului, È™i o È›inti spre ea. Selunia tresÄƒri la vederea acestor atacuri asupra ei, de parcÄƒ nu s-ar fi aÈ™teptat. Nu mai pierdu vremea gÃ¢ndindu-se dacÄƒ le poate para sau nu, ci, din instinct, sÄƒri Ã®n partea dreaptÄƒ, ferindu-se din calea lor. Proiectilele explodarÄƒ Ã®n momentul izbirii peretelui dinspre tronuri, distrugÃ¢nd o parte semnificativÄƒ din el. BucÄƒÈ›i de zid sÄƒrirÄƒ peste tot. Soris È™i pÄƒrinÈ›ii sÄƒi se Ã®nfiorarÄƒ la auzul acestei bubuituri. â€žDacÄƒ l-au omorÃ¢t pe general?â€ Selunia cÄƒzu rostogolindu-se pe o parte. Se opri, ridicÃ¢ndu-se Ã®n stÃ¢nd pe un genunchi, cu faÈ›a spre inamici. Imediat, Ã®È™i Ã®ntinse mÃ¢na dreaptÄƒ spre ei, ca È™i cum ar fi È›inut un pistol, cu cealaltÄƒ mÃ¢nÄƒ susÈ›inÃ¢ndu-È™i Ã®ncheietura. ÃŽncepu sÄƒ tragÄƒ cÃ¢teva gloanÈ›e-laser cu puterea mÄƒnuÈ™ilor ei. Èšinti Ã®nspre picioarele lor, fÄƒcÃ¢ndu-i sÄƒ se distanÈ›eze unul de celÄƒlalt. Aceasta Ã®nsÄƒ nu Ã®l Ã®mpiedicÄƒ pe Leido sÄƒ mai tragÄƒ Ã®ncÄƒ un proiectil exploziv asupra ei. Selunia se ridicÄƒ. Se aruncÄƒ iar pe o parte, continuÃ¢nd sÄƒ emitÄƒ gloanÈ›e energetice, direcÈ›ionate, de aceastÄƒ datÄƒ, spre piepturile lor. Vittria se apÄƒrÄƒ, fÄƒrÄƒ probleme, cu scutul ei susÈ›inut de toiagul magic. Leido fu lovit din plin, se dezechilibrÄƒ È™i cÄƒzu pe spate, Ã®mpins de puterea gloanÈ›elor ei. Selunia remarcÄƒ rezistenÈ›a armurii lui la un astfel de atac. Doar pe o coapsÄƒ Ã®l rÄƒnise. PlatoÈ™a de pe piept Ã®l ferise bine. Ea aterizÄƒ pe umÄƒrul drept â€“ Ã®n urma sÄƒriturii â€“ È™i, pentru prima oarÄƒ, Ã®È™i mulÈ›umi cÄƒ poartÄƒ costumul gros de soldat. â€žParcÄƒ am cÄƒzut pe o saltea!â€ Ã®È™i zise ea Ã®ncÃ¢ntatÄƒ. Impactul cu solul o fÄƒcu Ã®nsÄƒ sÄƒ Ã®È™i opreascÄƒ atacul pentru douÄƒ clipe. Vittria profitÄƒ de aceastÄƒ oportunitate. ÃŽncepu sÄƒ azvÃ¢rle agresiv, una dupÄƒ alta, necontenit, lame energetice. Selunia, Ã®ntinsÄƒ pe jos Ã®ncÄƒ, Ã®È™i aduse antebraÈ›ele la piept, una peste alta â€“ Ã®n formÄƒ de â€žXâ€. ÃŽÈ™i creÄƒ un scut energetic luminos, transparent, ce o apÄƒrÄƒ complet. Se ridicÄƒ repede Ã®n picioare, alergÄƒ Ã®ntr-o parte È™i Ã®n alta, vrÃ¢nd sÄƒ scape de atacurile Vittriei. Acestea nu se opreau, ci continuau sÄƒ Ã®i izbeascÄƒ scutul, sÄƒ o Ã®mpingÄƒ È™i chiar sÄƒ o dezechilibreze. Vittria avansa spre ea Ã®ncrezÄƒtoare. Seluniei Ã®i veni o idee. â€žIa stai puÈ›in! Mi-aduc aminte cÄƒ tipa asta e nebunÄƒ dupÄƒ Soris...â€ MenÈ›inu scutul È™i porni spre scÄƒrile unde se afla legat Soris. Planul ei avu efect. Deoarece era Ã®n direcÈ›ia lui, Vittria Ã®È™i slÄƒbi atacul; lansa lamelele cu precauÈ›ie. Selunia trecu prin preajma bardanilor rÄƒpuÈ™i anterior de apa Ã®ncÄƒrcatÄƒ cu energie. ObservÄƒ cu groazÄƒ cÄƒ Ã®ncepeau sÄƒ-È™i revinÄƒ. â€žAh! Sunt Ã®n crizÄƒ de timp! Trebuie neapÄƒrat sÄƒ pun mÃ¢na pe toiagul acelei nebune! O sÄƒ risc puÈ›in...â€ AÈ™a cum È›inea ea antebraÈ›ele Ã®ncruciÈ™ate, cu mÃ¢na dreaptÄƒ apucÄƒ Ã®ncheietura mÃ¢inii stÃ¢ngi. Astfel, scutul se menÈ›inu, dar deveni mai gros, mai puternic. Selunia putu sÄƒ se apropie de Vittria fÄƒrÄƒ sÄƒ mai fie Ã®mpinsÄƒ Ã®napoi de lamele. ÃŽncepu a alerga cu Ã®ncredere cÄƒtre È›inta ei. Vittria fu luatÄƒ prin surprindere de aceastÄƒ miÈ™care a ei. Nu se aÈ™tepta ca scutul ei sÄƒ devinÄƒ atÃ¢t de puternic. Vedea cum undele roÈ™iatice se spulberau simplu pe protecÈ›ia ei, precum picÄƒturile de ploaie pe piatrÄƒ. Soris, regele È™i regina priveau uluiÈ›i toatÄƒ aceastÄƒ bÄƒtÄƒlie fantasticÄƒ. Acum se Ã®ndoiau cÄƒ individul ce le sÄƒrise Ã®n ajutor ar fi generalul Waltario. Era mai mic de staturÄƒ, iar modul de a se miÈ™ca È™i lupta, cu siguranÈ›Äƒ nu era al lui. Dar atunci, cine era? SÄƒ fi avut ei un asemenea soldat priceput, fÄƒrÄƒ ca ei sÄƒ È™tie? DupÄƒ costum nu avea un rang prea ridicat. VÄƒzÃ¢ndu-È™i oponentul venind aÈ™a de rapid spre ea, Vittria Ã®ncetÄƒ atacul cu lamele. TrÃ¢nti cu putere baza toiagului de podea. Piatra emise un val de aer intens. Selunia nu se dÄƒdu la o parte. SÄƒri hotÄƒrÃ¢tÄƒ cu avÃ¢nt prin el, spÄƒrgÃ¢ndu-l. Se repezi cu scutul Ã®n Vittria. Aceasta Ã®È™i ridicÄƒ repede sceptrul pe orizontalÄƒ, creÃ¢nd È™i ea un scut, cu care Ã®l blocÄƒ pe cel al Seluniei. Se Ã®mpinserÄƒ una pe cealaltÄƒ, de cÃ¢teva ori. Unda de vÃ¢nt, mult diminuatÄƒ de miÈ™carea Seluniei, ajunse Ã®n zona familiei regale È™i a bardanilor Ã®n revenire dupÄƒ electrocutare. ToÈ›i furÄƒ Ã®mpinÈ™i puÈ›in de aceasta. Regele È™i regina ajunserÄƒ aproape de un perete. Soris fu È›inut bine de legÄƒturi. Ar fi vrut sÄƒ fi fost smuls din ele, Ã®nsÄƒ acel val de aer nu avu acea putere. Chiar È™i Ã®n acest stadiu vlÄƒguit, el ar fi vrut totuÈ™i sÄƒ fie dezlegat È™i sÄƒ Ã®ncerce sÄƒ Ã®l ajute pe acel soldat curajos. Vittria observÄƒ cÄƒ armura energeticÄƒ a soldatului misterios stÄƒtea sÄƒ o spargÄƒ pe a ei. Ar fi putut sÄƒ o doboare pe loc dacÄƒ se Ã®ntÃ¢mpla aceasta. Se concentrÄƒ mai tare asupra pietrei. Aceasta Ã®ncepu sÄƒ lumineze orbitor. O radiaÈ›ie roÈ™iaticÄƒ se extinse pe tot sceptrul. Apoi, spre uimirea Seluniei, ea izbuti sÄƒ-È™i Ã®nvÃ¢rtÄƒ rapid toiagul de cinci ori. ÃŽn acest fel, Selunia, fÄƒrÄƒ sÄƒ vrea, se rÄƒsuci Ã®n aer, pe orizontalÄƒ, de vreo zece ori, apoi picÄƒ pe marmurÄƒ, rostogolindu-se Ã®ndelung, pe o parte. DebusolatÄƒ de aceastÄƒ miÈ™care, ea Ã®È™i pierdu scutul. Soris Ã®ncercÄƒ din nou sÄƒ se tragÄƒ afarÄƒ din funiile strÃ¢nse. Oare soldatul avea sÄƒ piardÄƒ lupta? Vittria se clÄƒtinÄƒ uÈ™or. Era glorioasÄƒ, Ã®nsÄƒ consumase cam mult din resursele ei energetice. ÃŽÈ™i adunÄƒ totuÈ™i repede forÈ›ele. Avea de Ã®ncheiat o bÄƒtÄƒlie ce ajunsese Ã®n avantajul ei. Nu Ã®i dÄƒdu rÄƒgaz Seluniei sÄƒ Ã®È™i vinÄƒ Ã®n fire. Se avÃ¢ntÄƒ cu toiagul asupra ei. Urma sÄƒ Ã®i dea lovitura finalÄƒ. Cu toate acestea, Selunia apucÄƒ sÄƒ se ridice Ã®n sprijin pe un genunchi È™i sÄƒ observe cum toiagul â€“ ce lumina ca Ã®nvÄƒluit de o furtunÄƒ cu fulgere â€“ se ridica ameninÈ›Äƒtor deasupra ei. ÃŽn mai puÈ›in de o clipÄƒ urma sÄƒ o loveascÄƒ. ÃŽÈ™i ridicÄƒ mÃ¢inile instinctiv, ca sÄƒ se apere. Ar fi vrut sÄƒ creeze un scut, Ã®nsÄƒ se rÄƒzgÃ¢ndi pe loc. â€žNu mai e timp de pierdut. Risc!â€ Ã®È™i spuse ea Ã®n gÃ¢nd, prinzÃ¢nd cu dÃ¢rzenie toiagul Ã®n mÃ¢inile ei radiante. Aura Ã®nnoratÄƒ, din jurul sceptrului, plesni la contactul cu energia mÄƒnuÈ™ilor ei. RevÄƒrsÄƒ scÃ¢ntei peste ea, pe care braÈ›ele ei le percepurÄƒ ca pe o revÄƒrsare de apÄƒ fiartÄƒ. Costumul de soldat se zdreli. Selunia Ã®nchise ochii o clipÄƒ È™i icni Ã®ncet, de durere. â€žNu trebuie sÄƒ Ã®i dau drumul. E ultima mea È™ansÄƒ! OricÃ¢t de dureros ar fi, trebuie sÄƒ pun mÃ¢na pe piatrÄƒ!â€ Ã®È™i spuse ea ferm. Vittria se uitÄƒ Ã®nciudatÄƒ la manevra soldatului. Cum de reuÈ™ise el sÄƒ Ã®È™i punÄƒ mÃ¢inile pe sceptrul ei magic? Ce fel de mÄƒnuÈ™i erau acelea? Un om normal nu ar fi putut face aceasta. Numai sÄƒ se fi apropiat de toiagul activat, È™i ar fi fost rÄƒpus mortal. Era prima oarÄƒ cÃ¢nd Ã®ntÃ¢lnea un astfel de oponent. Era foarte uimitÄƒ È™i enervatÄƒ de apariÈ›ia lui neaÈ™teptatÄƒ, Ã®nsÄƒ, mai presus de toate, nu voia sÄƒ piardÄƒ. Astfel, Ã®ncercÄƒ Ã®nverÈ™unatÄƒ sÄƒ tragÄƒ de toiag Ã®napoi spre ea, sÄƒ-l desprindÄƒ pe inamic de el. Selunia fu ajutatÄƒ, oarecum, de aceastÄƒ miÈ™care a ei. ReuÈ™i sÄƒ se ridice Ã®n picioare È™i sÄƒ continue bÄƒtaia pe sceptru. Soris È™i pÄƒrinÈ›ii sÄƒi rÄƒsuflarÄƒ puÈ›in uÈ™uraÈ›i. ÃŽncÄƒ mai era speranÈ›Äƒ. Fetele se smucirÄƒ una pe cealaltÄƒ, fÄƒrÄƒ ca una sÄƒ cedeze vreun pic. AmÃ¢ndouÄƒ erau Ã®nrÄƒite sÄƒ cÃ¢È™tige. Selunia, cu coada ochiului, remarcÄƒ Ã®ngrozitÄƒ cum cÃ¢È›iva bardani se Ã®nzdrÄƒveneau È™i dÄƒdeau sÄƒ se ridice de jos. â€žAh, nu mai am timp! Nu mai am timp!! Trebuie sÄƒ pun mÃ¢na pe piatra din vÃ¢rf, neapÄƒrat! Numai cÄƒ nu pot chiar acum, cÃ¢nd ea e Ã®n plinÄƒ forÈ›Äƒ. Trebuie sÄƒ o dezlipesc pe bezmetica asta de sceptru, fie È™i numai pentru o clipÄƒ!â€ ÃŽncercÄƒ sÄƒ o Ã®mpingÄƒ cu piciorul ei drept. Vittria se Ã®ncleÈ™tÄƒ mai abitir de toiag. ActivÄƒ sceptrul cu toatÄƒ puterea ei. Seluniei Ã®ncepurÄƒ sÄƒ Ã®i amorÈ›eascÄƒ mÃ¢inile. Chiar È™i mÄƒnuÈ™ile-cristal nu puteau sÄƒ o mai protejeze complet. Din disperare, ea se propti cu piciorul drept Ã®n coastele inferioare ale Vittriei, iar cu celÄƒlalt o lovi cÃ¢t putu ea de tare. Inevitabil, Vittria Ã®È™i pierdu echilibrul, neputÃ¢nd face faÈ›Äƒ loviturilor È™i greutÄƒÈ›ii Seluniei. PicÄƒ Ã®nspre ea. ÃŽn timpul cÄƒderii, deÈ™i Vittria nu Ã®È™i luase mÃ¢inile de pe toiag, È™ocul o fÄƒcu sÄƒ piardÄƒ controlul asupra lui. Selunia, observÃ¢nd cum lumina pietrei Ã®ncepu sÄƒ pÃ¢lpÃ¢ie â€“ semn cÄƒ se dezactiva â€“ Ã®È™i desprinse o mÃ¢nÄƒ de pe sceptru È™i apucÄƒ hotÄƒrÃ¢tÄƒ piatra din vÃ¢rf. Izbindu-se cu spinarea de podea, ea strÃ¢nse cristalul cÃ¢t putu de tare È™i emise un flux intens de energie. Vittria deschise ochii larg; realizÄƒ cÄƒ nu mai avea nicio scÄƒpare. O bubuiturÄƒ zdravÄƒnÄƒ, ca de tunet, rÄƒsunÄƒ Ã®n toatÄƒ sala, Ã®n momentul Ã®n care energia pietrei explodÄƒ sub presiunea celei a mÄƒnuÈ™ilor-cristal. Vittria fu aruncatÄƒ sus, Ã®n aer, de unda de È™oc a exploziei. PicÄƒ undeva mult Ã®n spatele ei. Selunia simÈ›i Ã®nsÄƒ cum unda trecu prin ea, presÃ¢ndu-i toate oasele È™i organele, iar apoi pÄƒtrunzÃ¢ndu-i prin ele. Inima i se opri pe loc. ÃŽnchise ochii. MÃ¢inile Ã®i picarÄƒ lipsite de suflu pe marmura rece, de-o parte È™i de alta, pe lÃ¢ngÄƒ trupul ei. ÃŽÈ™i pierduse viaÈ›a. Sceptrul, cu piatra magicÄƒ intactÄƒ, se ridicÄƒ mult Ã®n aer, la peste trei metri de pÄƒmÃ¢nt. Radiind neregulat, Ã®ncepu sÄƒ se Ã®nvÃ¢rtÄƒ de unul singur, creÃ¢nd un vÃ¢rtej roÈ™iatic care atrase un curent de praf negru de peste tot din jur. PrinÈ›ul, regele È™i regina, cu ochii pironiÈ›i la sceptrul zburÄƒtor ca hipnotizaÈ›i, Ã®ncepurÄƒ sÄƒ simtÄƒ cum greutatea È™i suferinÈ›a din corp dispÄƒreau gradual. ÃŽÈ™i recÄƒpÄƒtarÄƒ forÈ›ele. EliberaÈ›i de negura nÄƒucitoare, Ã®È™i Ã®ntoarserÄƒ privirile spre salvatorul lor, care acum zÄƒcea Ã®ntins pe jos, fÄƒrÄƒ suflare. â€“ Hei, bÄƒiete! EÈ™ti bine? Ã®i strigÄƒ tare regele. Selunia Ã®nsÄƒ nu miÈ™ca. ToÈ›i trei schimbrÄƒ priviri Ã®ngrijorate È™i Ã®ncearcarÄƒ sÄƒ scape din legÄƒturi. Nu mai puteau sÄƒ depindÄƒ de el. Acum nu mai erau neputincioÈ™i. ÃŽnsÄƒ erau legaÈ›i fedeleÈ™, iar bardanii Ã®ncepeau sÄƒ Ã®È™i revinÄƒ. DeÈ™i vraja fusese distrusÄƒ, nu se puteau considera scÄƒpaÈ›i. Puterile bardanilor le erau necunoscute. Le era teamÄƒ de ei, dupÄƒ ce vÄƒzuserÄƒ ce fel de arme aveau. Nu se puteau baza pe slujitorii lor. Oamenii palatului ar fi putut fi È™antajaÈ›i cu vieÈ›ile lor sÄƒ nu intervinÄƒ. Aveau nevoie de ajutor.