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Novel – Lindy

Let me begin by saying that Lindy now has, not a new edition, but a new cover, with jacket art graciously provided by Larisa Koshkina.  That, however, is the last positive thing I will say in this entire post.  The remainder of it will descend to the level of a rant in which I savagely critique lulu.com’s cover editor.  You may not want to read further.

So, Lulu provides three options for designing a cover.  There is a basic online template, which is useless in the extreme, not much better than trying to design graphics in a word processor.

There is a new online template, which is awkward and cumbersome but that mostly gets the job done, unless, of course, you want to do something crazy, like have an image on the spine of your book, which it will not allow you to do under any circumstances.  The reasoning, in theory, is that the spine width changes depending on how many pages are in the book, and so the image size for the spine is different with each project. Yet, by the time you get around to designing the cover, you have already uploaded your book file to Lulu, and Lulu already knows exactly how wide your book will be, so all Lulu really needs is an online template with the capacity to change spine widths according to the information it already has.   Apparently, however, this is too difficult for a company that sets and prints many thousands of different covers a year, which is, in short, remarkably inept.

The third option is to create your own cover and upload it to the site, but Lulu once again makes things as difficult as possible by providing no template at all.  To generate this template,  based on the book you have already uploaded, would be simple in the extreme.  It need not be interactive.  It need not be editable online.  It need only be a file generated to the book’s dimensions.  Instead, Lulu just lists the dimensions for you and tells you to go do it yourself,  which is  simply horrible customer service.

So, I think Lulu may have lost my business in the long term.  I will leave things as they are for now, but I am exploring other more professional options, and I am hopeful that I will be able to judge at least some of these publishers by their covers.

I agree, it does seem a little early to be making a second edition of Lindy, but I have some excellent excuses:

First, I was not sure exactly how to do some things in LaTeX the first time around, so my ellipses were all messed up and some of my end punctuation was a little strange, all of which has now been fixed.

Second, I had not discovered how to do Creative Commons licensing through LaTeX, and now I have, so I have included that bit at the front.

Third, I had several people complain that I had not included an About the Author section, so I have now added one at the back of the book.

Fourth, many people were kind enough to send me editing suggestions, so I have now corrected a bunch of typos and whatnot.

Fifth, the original hardcover edition had my name correct everywhere but on the physical spine, which read Hill Jeremy Luke. I have corrected this too.

So, the end result is that there is now a second edition, still printed through lulu.com. Hopefully there will be quite a long time now between the second and the third.

I have been learning a little about LaTeX recently.

For those of you who are unfamiliar (as I was only a few months ago), LaTeX is a program that uses mark-up language (something like html) and a document preparation system to produce documents through the TeX typesetting program. It is used, mostly in academia, to produce publication-quality documents, and is particularly useful when building bibliographies, using graphics, and representing mathematical or scientific symbols.

When I went about trying to self-publish Lindy, my friend Dave used LaTeX to help me mark-up the manuscript and prepare it in a form that www.lulu.com would accept, but then I needed to make some revisions, and then I wanted to typeset a short story for someone, and then I started putting the Island Pieces together into a more formal shape, so I figured that I had better learn how to work with LaTeX myself rather than pestering Dave every time I needed something. Unfortunately, this has traditionally meant downloading the entire program and a whole set of additional packages,  setting them up, and doing the sort of computer work that generally ends up making me deeply frustrated with the world and everything in it.

However, as of quite recently, there is another option. ShareLaTeX, which describes itself as LaTeX in the cloud, provides a dedicated .tex editor and typesets to .pdf without having to download any part of LaTeX at all. The site is in its infancy, and it has not been without its growing pains, but the hassle that it saves more than makes up for it, and the creator of the site has been very good with responding to issues as they arise. To this point the service is free, and it will always be free to have a limited number of active projects, but eventually there will be a cost for larger numbers of projects.  I recommend the site to anyone who is interested in experimenting with what LaTeX can actually do.

Even without having to setup the program myself, however, the learning curve for marking up the text in a .tex file was fairly steep for me.  There are bits about LaTeX that make absolute sense, and other bits that make sense once you know them, but some bits remain counterintuitive even once you have used them, especially if you approach learning like I do, by throwing yourself into a project and just troubleshooting your way through it, rather than sitting down to read through a manual.

It took me some time, for example, to discover how to insert blank pages between the table of contents and the first chapter of a book in memoir class.  The newpage and clearpage commands did not seem to produce what I wanted, even when followed by thispagestyle{empty}, which were the standard suggestions for this problem.  Eventually I stumbled upon the cleartorecto and cleartoverso commands, which seem to have done the trick, though nobody else seems to use them in this way.  All of which is to say that learning to markup text for LaTeX has been an interesting experience for me, and though I am fairly certain that I will never make a career of it, I am pleased to be a little more self-sufficient in this respect.

So, I have finally gotten around to publishing Lindy through Lulu.com. There is a hardcover format, a trade paperback format, and a free ereader format as well, so hopefully there will be something for everyone. You can find them at this link if you are interested in a copy.

I will also take this opportunity to thank everyone who read along with the story as I posted it, those who took the time to proofread it and offer comments, and those who encouraged me along the way. I also want to offer a special thanks to Dave Humphrey, who typeset the whole thing in LaTeX and made it presentable for me.

Here is the last chapter of Lindy.  I will now be setting about some extensive revisions, so if you have any suggestions or criticisms, please do leave me a comment or send me an email at jeremylukehill@gmail.com.  As always, those who are new to the story can find the beginning at Chapter One, and those who would like to have the story thus far in a single file can find it in both .pdf and .rtf formats on the Longer Works page.

Chapter Twenty-Three:
In Which Some Final Things are Settled

The walk home from the bridge seemed like a dream to Lindy, because she could not quite bring herself to believe that it was true.  She and her mother and Alisdair and Moe went quietly at first, each with their own thoughts. but then they began to tell each other their stories, and soon they were laughing and crying and carrying on like the oldest of friends.  They had not gone very far before they were joined by Bayard and the others who had been waiting to do battle with Khurshid’s armies, and so the stories had to be told all over again, and then fastest of the creatures were sent off to The Crofts to spread the news, while those who remained went on at a more leisurely place, shouting and singing and generally making the biggest party that Lindy had ever seen as they made their way along the road.

They arrived at The Crofts while it was still quite early in the morning.  The sun had not yet even brushed the horizon, and the cool of night still clung to everything, but they found everyone very much awake.  The doors of the house all stood open, and the windows all shone with light.  The cottages were all alight as well, and there was a great bonfire burning in the common between them.  People were coming and going between the house and the fire, and they were all carrying food and drink to set at tables that had been dragged from the cottages.  Others were playing music or singing and dancing, as if they were celebrating every holiday rolled into one.

Lindy was too tired really to join in, but she found a spot with her mother at one of the tables, and she let someone put a plate of sausage and cheese in front of her, and she laid her head down on her hands to let everyone’s joy swirl around her.  She closed her eyes and felt her mother’s hand on her shoulder, and smelled the fire burning, and heard some kind of pipe playing a song like a bubbling river, and she fell asleep.

When she awoke it was just morning, the sun rising on a day that was still cool but that promised to grow hot.  Everything was very quiet, and Lindy could see people sleeping all around her, sitting at the tables or lying on the grass or resting against the cottages.  In fact, there was no one at all awake, as if everyone had fallen asleep all at once in the midst of their celebration, like the castle in sleeping beauty.  Even her mother was asleep at the table beside her.

Lindy did not try to wake the sleepers, but she felt wide awake herself, so she got to her feet and began slowly walking the path that had wound its way to the house through long grass when she had first arrived and had since been pressed flat by the passing of countless feet.  She had set out in the direction of the house idly, because it was where the path naturally led, so she was halfway there before she remembered that she was no longer welcome at The Crofts.  When she looked up at the house, however, the side door stood open, and she could imagine the little coat room through it and the kitchen beyond that, and she felt a longing to be back there again.  Surely The Crofts would not forbid her now, she thought, not after everything had come out right at the bridge.  Besides, if she could be brave enough to face Khurshid, she could certainly be brave enough to face the house, so she gathered herself and walked to the door and called out softly with her mind.

“Crofts?” she asked, “May I come in?”  The house did not answer, but she could feel it at the edges of her mind, full of emotion, happiness and embarrassment, gratitude and uncertainty, joy and fear.  “I know how you feel,” Lindy ventured again.  “I’m not really sure what to say either, but it would make me very happy if we could just start over again.”

There was a long moment where Lindy wondered whether the house would ever answer her, and then it said, “Come in,” said it very quickly, as if a little ashamed, but Lindy feel a swell of happiness in The Crofts, and she knew that things would be better now.

She stepped across the threshold into the coat room with a heart lighter than any time she could remember, reaching out to brush her hands along the walls as she passed them, thinking back to when she had first come this way, when Clinton and Moe had frightened her half to death by changing into strange creatures before her eyes.  She nudged open the door of the kitchen, expecting to see Penates already at work, but even he was asleep at his hearth, and the room stood empty except for two people sitting at the long, rough kitchen table.  One of them was Alisdair, sitting back in his chair, his legs crossed, and his hands holding a cup of tea in his lap, as if he was in the middle of a chat with an old friend.  The other was a man whom Lindy had never seen before, at least, he was a man when she first saw him, young and handsome with light hair, but almost immediately he became a much older man, white-haired and bent with age, and then a moment later he became a young girl, not much older than Lindy herself, and the moment after that she became a middle-aged man with deep red skin and golden eyes.  The figure took on one shape after another, each only for a second or two, so that Lindy thought that it must eventually look like every person who had ever lived, and she wondered whether it had ever looked like her, even just once.

“Welcome, Lindy,” said Alisdair.  He stood, and so did the other person, who looked now like a poor woman dressed all in rags.  “This is Aigonz.  He is the spirit of this world, as The Crofts is the spirit of this house, and as you are the spirit of your body.  He is The Weald itself, you might say.”  He bowed his head in Aigonz’ direction as he said this, and Lindy bowed her head too, not only because Alisdair had done so, but because she felt somehow that Aigonz was someone to whom bows were rightfully due.

Aigonz stood now as well, taking the form of a dark-skinned man with a broad smile and a carefully pressed suit.  He put his hand out to Lindy.  “I’m very glad to meet you, Lindy,” he said.  “You’ve done a great good here, and I am truly grateful to you.”

“I only did what seemed like the right thing,” Lindy said, feeling a little embarrassed.

“That is the only thing worth doing,” Aigaonz answered,” becoming a small boy in a white robe, “and many are unable to do so much.  Each of us, you and Alasdair and I, and even Khurshid, only ever need do what seems right, and no one may do it for us.  We either do it or not.”  He looked Lindy in the eyes.  “This is not only the task of gods and heroes.  It is the task that faces us all.  We have no other.”

“But I don’t always know what the right thing is,” said Lindy quietly.

“None of us ever do,” said Aigaonz, now a beautiful young woman with chocolate skin and long black hair.  Her voice was gentle.  “You can only keep watching and listening, and you will know it when it comes.”

“I see,” said Lindy, but she felt a little overwhelmed.

Aigonz smiled, her white teeth flashing.  Come,” she said “let me show you what you’ve helped accomplish.  Her hand was still outstretched, and Lindy came toward her and took it.  There was a sound like a sudden gust of wind, and then the kitchen disappeared, and all three of them were standing in the great room at the top of the house.  The places on the great table had all been set with gold and with crystal, and there were tall candles, and boughs of fir, and wreaths of ivy.  On every plate there was a crown, and they seemed alive to Lindy, as if they were filled with a joy of their own.

Aigonz had become a pale man with a scar that blinded him in one eye.  “Do you see the crowns, Lindy?” he asked.  “They are all in their places once again, and soon Keepers will come from all the worlds, one by one, and they will take up the crowns, and The Crofts will be filled with people once again.”  As he said this, Lindy’s mind was filled with images of the house bursting with people, coming and going and living together.  She saw people laughing around the kitchen tables and hanging laundry outside the cottages and hoeing rows of vegetables in the fields, and there, in the midst of them, she also saw her mother, chopping vegetables in the kitchen, and she saw herself, standing on the bridge, looking out across the river valley.

Lindy was so filled with happiness at that she could hardly speak, but she somehow kept from crying and looked up into Aigonz’ eyes.  “So,” she managed, “does this mean that I can stay here?  And my Mom too?”

Aigonz nodded, his eyes becoming those of a shy-looking girl in floral-print dress.  “Of course,” she said.

“Will we live in my cubby?” Lindy asked.

The little girl laughed, and it sounded like a thousand laughs joined gently together, babies gurgling and children giggling and grandparents chuckling all at once.  “Not exactly,” she said.  “Come, and I will show you.”  She took Lindy’s hand again, and there was the same sound of wind, and they appeared now at the centre of the bridge.  The morning sun glistened on the waters, and the trees moved gently, full of their summer leaves, and the sky was a light, morning blue.  It was so beautiful that Lindy could hardly believe it was the same place where such terrible things had almost happened the night before.

“You won’t be staying in your cubby,” Aigonz said from beside her, “because this, if you’ll remember, is now your home.”  She had become now a very handsome young man, and Lindy quickly let go of his hand, feeling a little embarrassed.

“But we can’t live here, can we?” she asked.

The handsome boy laughed his thousand laughs.  “Can’t you?” he said, but his voice was teasing.  “Though you didn’t know it, Lindy, you’ve become something that has never been seen in The Weald before.  There have been Keepers ever since Khurshid betrayed his home, and they were set to meet Khurshid at the bridge each year, so the veil could be renewed.  But you have made the bridge your home, like a second seal on Khurshid’s prison.  So I’m going to make you a house here where you have already made your home, and you will keep watch over the bridge.”  He laughed again.  “Yes, we’ve long had Keepers, but now we have a Watcher as well, and the Watcher needs a house.”

He motioned with his hands, and the whole valley trembled.  Stones rose from the ground, shaking free from the earth.  Trees toppled along both banks.  Everywhere there was the sound of rocks splitting and wood creaking, as the very stuff of the valley transformed itself into masonry and timber.  All of it came flowing up the bridge in a rush, like water running up hill, and it joined itself together, stone on stone, timber on timber, until there stood before them a most beautiful house.  Its foundations rested on the walls of the bridge, leaving a passage beneath it for people to pass, and it had a stairway leading up to a door in its floor, just like the one that led into Lindy’s attic cubby.

“This will be your home,” Aigonz said, looking now like a grey-haired woman with kind eyes.  “Through its windows you can keep watch over the bridge, and through its door you may go to your cubby in The Crofts any time you will it.”

Lindy walked slowly toward the house, her house now, looking back to Alisdair and Aigonz only once.  Then she set her hand on the rail, climbed the stairs, pushed open the door, and at last she knew that she was home.

Previous Chapter

Here is the second to last instalment of Lindy.  It is short, but I am making up for it by posting the final chapter right after it.  As always, those who are new to the story can find the beginning at Chapter One, and those who would like to have the story thus far in a single file can find it in both .pdf and .rtf formats on the Longer Works page.

Chapter Twenty-Two:
In Which There Are Two Remarkable Happenings

When Lindy placed the crown on Alisdair’s head, two quite different but equally remarkable things began happening at exactly the same time.

One of those things happened right before Lindy’s eyes, and this was the thing that more or less everyone saw once they realized that something was going on and turned to find what it was.  All at once Alisdair’s chains dropped away, and he came to his feet without ever seeming to stand, and he became the king that Lindy had first seen coming through the arch in Mister Hat’s garden, stern and beautiful and terrible.  His green-gold face seemed almost to glow, and the patterns on his robes danced and swirled around him.  He had no sword, only a golden branch, topped with leaves of many colours, orange and yellow, green sand silver, red and gold, but he held it before him like a weapon.

In only a moment, he had reached the top of the stairs, though he hardly seemed to move.  Khurshid’s guards recognized the danger too late, and though the feline woman sprang at him with clawed hands, and though the lizard-man drew a long sinuous blade, Alisdair only motioned with the branch, and they fell aside as if they had been struck by some huge and invisible fist.  Khurshid had also turned to face Alisdair, but he made to attempt to attack, only stood on his throne, and Lindy felt as though the world was balanced between them, waiting on what would happen next.

“You will leave now,” Alisdair told him.  There was neither anger nor fear in his voice, only a steady calm, and as he spoke, he casually bent to close the chest of crowns, as if he were merely tidying up around the house while speaking to an unruly child.

Khurshid gave no answer, but seemed to gather himself, his eyes glittering like gems and his hair lit-red-gold in the torchlight, and then he flung himself into the air, high over Alisdair’s head, caught himself on broad wings, and fell upon Lindy in an instant, seizing her in one arm and holding a knife to her throat with the other.  Then he turned to face Alisdair again.  “If I leave,” he said, low and guttural and savage, “it will cost you dearly.”

Now, as I said, this was one of the things that began happening when Lindy returned the crown to Alisdair, but there was a second thing, a very different thing, but just as important in its way.  You see, in the same instant that Lindy put the crown on Alisdair’s head, the same instant that he was freed from his chains, Lindy made quite an astonishing realization.  Somehow, without quite knowing what she was doing, she had done what was needed to be done, and everything changed for her.  She saw quite clearly, for the first time, what it meant really to do something.  It was not that she was the only one who could have given the crown back to Alisdair, or that she had been somehow destined to do it, or even that she had needed to do it.   She had just been in a time and place where something needed to be done, and she had done it.  What was more, she also knew, not in her mind only but also in her spirit, that this thing she had done had made the place her home at last, had made all The Weald her home in a way, but the bridge in particular, made it her home in a sense that she could not hope to describe.  She had laid her things in the middle of it, and she had claimed it, and now she had done something to make it what she claimed.

This is why, when Khurshid swooped down and seized her, Lindy was not at all afraid.  Though she was still not quite clear about what had happened, she was already certain that there was no longer anything to fear, and even as she saw the look of resignation on Alisdair’s face, even as she saw him hesitate where he stood between Khurshid’s throne and the golden chest, she did not hesitate herself, only spoke out with a clear, strong voice.   “Let me go, please,” she said, as firmly and boldly as she had ever said anything, and she felt Khurshid flinch.

“I’ll do no such…” he started to say, but Lindy could already feel his grip loosening despite himself, and he gave a roar of surprise and anger.  “What magic is this?” he screamed, his hands now pulling completely free of his prey.

Lindy turned to look into his eyes.  “This is my home,” she said, for the second time that night, “and you must leave it.”

He held her gaze for a few seconds longer, and Lindy could feel him struggling against the truth of what she had said, and then he howled in rage, the howl of a beast.  He sprang backward, taking the shape of a lion, and dashed up the steps of the carriage.  Lindy thought for a moment that he would strike at Alisdair, but he only rushed past him and off the carriage in a single leap, and by the time Lindy reached the top of the steps, he was already fleeing between his followers down the road toward the forest.

A great silence fell over the river valley then.  Even the breeze died away, and the torches burned more still.

“Hear me now,” Alisdair called into the stillness, his voice filling the valley, seeming to come from everywhere, like a distant thunder.  “I am a Keeper of The Weald, and I have met your master at the bridge as it was appointed that I should, and your master has fled, as you have witnessed.”  His voice had taken on a formal tone, as if he was reciting something at a ceremony.  He paused, and there was a murmur now, as those gathered in the valley below began to wonder at what had happened on the bridge above them.  “Not only has your master fled,” Alisdair continued, “but he has left behind him the crowns of the Keepers, and so those of you who once wore them, those who betrayed them into his hands, are no longer bound to him.  You need no longer be his servants, though it lies with you now to choose another way.”

The murmuring of the crowd had become almost a roar, but Alisdair took paid it no attention.  “See?” He demanded, “Midsummer is come, and the veil has been renewed!”

As he said this last, Lindy saw a bright light shine out from behind her, and she looked to see that the two waves of silver fire had come together to make a great ball of flame in the centre of the bridge.  The flame flickered and rose and grew brighter, towering into the sky, and then there was nothing.  There was only a darkness then, a darkness so deep that the torches from the valley below could do nothing to dispel it.  How long the darkness remained, Lindy could not afterwards say, but it was suddenly split by a ball of silver fire once more, and then a wave of silver rushed out in both directions, leaving a veil of dancing colours behind it, like the joined tails of twin comets.

Behind her, Lindy heard the crowd crying out and rushing away in confusion, but she never looked back, only ran down the steps into her mother’s arms.

Previous Chapter < > Next Chapter

Here is the next instalment of Lindy.  As always, those who are new to the story can find the beginning at Chapter One, and those who would like to have the story thus far in a single file can find it in both .pdf and .rtf formats on the Longer Works page.

Chapter Twenty-One:
In Which Things Get Much Worse Indeed

If you have ever noticed how the distance between one thing and another can change depending on how you are feeling, you will understand a little how Lindy felt as she walked to the bridge that afternoon.  Her first walk from The Crofts to the bridge with Moe and Cleanna had gone by in a moment because her heart had been full of gladness and a glorious spring morning.  This second time, however, with evening coming on, and with the weight of the house’s anger, and with the fear of what Khurshid was about to do at midnight, the road seemed ever so much longer.  The pillow and the blanket she was carrying were not very heavy, but they were bulky and awkward, so she was always stopping to readjust her grip or to switch arms, and though it was not nearly as cold as the night before, there was a cool breeze blowing, so she was a little cold too, and the road dragged on and on, so it was getting dark by the time Lindy came at last to the edge of the forest and looked out across the river valley.

She had been able to hear Khurshid’s camp for some time already, and even from across the river she could see that fires were burning redly everywhere, and the whole valley smelled of smoke and mud and rot and even nastier things.  She was still not sure what she intended to do, but her feet seemed to follow the path, whether she willed them to or not, and the path led them down the hill and across the plain and, without any hesitation, right to the highest point of the bridge.  There she unrolled her sleeping bag and crawled into it, so that she was sitting against the wall of the bridge, the sleeping bag pulled up around her and the pillow tucked between her head and the cold stone.

It was not yet quite dark, and it soon became clear that Lindy’s presence on the bridge had not gone unnoticed.  At first there were only a few shouts and pointing fingers in the midst of the general noise and chaos in the valley below, but soon there were more and more people looking up to where Lindy was sitting.  The meadow gradually quietened, and  a crowd gathered at the foot of the bridge, and when there was nothing but silence across the valley, Khurshid himself stood on his carriage throne and looked up toward where Lindy lay.

“Lindy,” he called, “you must be eager to see your surprise if you’ve come so early, but I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait like everyone else.”

Lindy said nothing, just looked steadily into the clear evening sky, still grey with the last light of day.

“Are we no longer on speaking terms, dear Lindy?” Khurshid mocked.  “Very well, but we will speak later, and then you will answer me, I assure you.”

Lindy still kept quiet.  Khurshid’s taunts no longer bothered her somehow, and the sky above her was too lovely to spoil with even a glance in his direction.  The first stars were appearing, and her sleeping bag was growing nicely warm in the chill air.  Though she was only a few short steps from her enemy, and though she was only a few short hours from watching him invade her adopted home, she was full of a strange peace.  She did not yet know what to do, but she knew somehow that she was where she should be, and she felt content despite everything.  She still desperately wanted things to turn out right, of course, wanted her mother and Alisdair to be rescued more than anything, but her heart was at peace.  It was not a feeling that she ever managed to describe to me while she was telling me her story, but anything worth feeling is like that, I think, so I did not ask her to explain any further, and you will have to content yourself with that as well.

Lindy was never sure if she actually slept there on the bridge that night, lying on the hard, smooth stone under the high, clear sky.  She could not remember closing her eyes or falling asleep or waking up, but she did remember falling into something like a dream.  She thought that she could see the constellations sail across the sky, and she felt like she was drifting too, just like the stars, as if the bridge had been picked up by a silent and tremendous wave and floated along among the cool, white lights of the night sky.  The stars began to swirl, and there were ribbons of them gathered like mist, and Lindy felt only how small she was in the midst of everything.  After a moment she realized that the stars looked familiar again, and it seemed to her that she was now in two places at once, both on the bridge in The Weald and on the railway that ran down the middle of the street in front of her own house back home.  She had the feeling that the two places were the same somehow, that she was hovering between them, and that she could go home again that very minute if only she willed it.  The idea tempted her for a moment, but she knew that she could not abandon her mother and Alisdair, though it was comforting to feel that she was so close to home after all.

Suddenly, there was a shouting and a roaring and a beating of drums at the foot of the bridge, and Lindy all at once found herself very much awake again.  She scrambled out of her sleeping bag to her feet and looked down the curve of the bridge.  Huge creatures had seized Khurshid’s carriage by the bars along its sides and were dragging it step-by-step up the bridge, while the crowd pressed after it, waving torches and brandishing weapons and beating drums and playing horns.  The procession moved slowly, but it was not long before it had come close enough for Lindy to see the faces of the beasts struggling to pull the vast carriage and to see Khurshid sitting sprawled on his throne.

She backed along the bridge a few steps, just to be sure that she had the veil between Khurshid and herself, and then she waited for him to come.  She tried to think what she should do, but her mind was still distracted with everything she had just seen and with the feeling of being so close to her home, and she could not seem to make things come clear.   “If only the bridge was my home,” she thought, “then Khurshd wouldn’t have any right to it,” and this idea suddenly seemed to make perfect sense to her, though she had no idea how to go about making a bridge a home.

“Lindy!” she heard Khurshid cry, and there was a profound silence as the voices and the drums were stilled.  “You are indeed a most surprising child.  I thought you would be much too frightened to keep our appointment tonight, but here you are.  You must be very anxious indeed to see the surprise I have for you, though a smart girl like you has probably guessed what it is already.”  He skipped down to the very last stair of the carriage and held out his hand to her.  “Come up to my throne, my dear, and I’ll show it to you.  I’m certain you’ll find it most interesting.”

“You can show me from there,” Lindy called back, her voice much braver than she felt.

Khurshid threw back his head and laughed aloud.  “Very well, you may keep your distance for now, though it will not save you for long.”  Then he motioned grandly in the air with his hand and began slowly to remount the stairs of the throne as a small group of figures made their way from the dim mass behind the carriage into the light of the throne’s torches.  Though Lindy already hoped that her mother and Alisdair and Moe would be among the group, she still cried aloud when she finally made out their faces as they were shoved roughly to the stairs of the carriage.  Everything else became instantly unimportant.  The lights and the crowd and even Khurshid himself all but disappeared from Lindy’s mind, and in their place was only her mother and Alisdair and Moe.  She could not even remember afterward what it was that she shouted when she first saw them, only that she ran across the veil, no longer caring whether she was putting herself into danger, and she threw her arms around her mother.

If anyone said anything for the next few minutes, Lindy never knew, and if they did anything, she never knew that either.  All she knew was the warmth of her mother’s face and the smell of her hair and the sound of her voice murmuring from behind the gag.  It was as if time stopped for a moment, and Lindy found herself wishing that it would stop forever, even as the rest of the world began to return to her and a she began to remember once again exactly how serious their predicament really was.

It was only then that she heard Khurshid speak again, much closer and much softer.  “I’m so glad you like your surprise, Lindy.   I knew you would.  And your happiness will make it all the more enjoyable for me after we cross the bridge and I kill you all,  just as I killed the other Keepers.”  He looked mockingly down at her.

A gong sounded then, a huge, deep sound that seemed to come from the earth itself, and everyone looked up startled to seea vast sheet of dancing colour, like the northern lights that Lindy sometimes saw at her Grandfather’s house up north.  The colours were in long streaks that reached up from the centre of the river all along its length, splitting the bridge at its highest point and reaching as far as the eye could see into the night sky.

“The veil!” Khurshid cried, and his eyes looked wildly joyful.  He turned back to Lindy.  “It will soon be time,” he said, “and I think we’ve had quite enough of this scene for now, don’t you darling?  It’s time that you took your seat to watch my triumph.”

Lindy saw two figures approaching from the sides of the carriage, the feline woman she had seen the night before and a tall, thin man who walked on all fours like a lizard, balancing on his tail when he stood.  She did not know how much time was left until midnight, but she knew that it must now be short, and so she knew that her own time was just as short.  She tried desperately to think what could be done, but her mind only kept repeating, “Make the bridge your home,” and she had no idea how.

She felt the lizard-man put his hand on her shoulder, and she flinched back instinctively.  “Get away!” she cried, because there was nothing else she could do. “This bridge is my home!  You can’t touch us here!”

The lizard-man shrunk back for a moment, and the woman paused as well, shifting into the shape of a spotted, black panther, but Khurshid only laughed.  “You foolish girl,” he snarled.  “A place isn’t your home because you throw a few blankets on the ground and say so.”  He stalked down the stairs, seized her arm, and jerked her to her feet.  “Now, ” he said, “you will sit where you’re told, and you would be wise not to interrupt me again tonight.”

He dragged her up the stairs of the carriage and threw her down at the foot of his throne against the chest of crowns, then seated himself on his throne.  The crowd still waited silently, and Lindy kept quiet too, looking down past the heap of crowns in the open chest to where her mother and Alisdair and Moe were tied at the foot of the carriage.  She knew that this was the end of things for them and for her and for The Crofts, but she could not really bring herself to believe it.  Everything had turned out wrong, despite her best intentions.  She had followed her visions and only lost the crown.  She had gone back to face The Crofts and only been rejected.  She had tried to make the bridge her home and only been captured.  She had failed time after time, and now there would be no more chances to make it right.

“If only,” she said, so quietly that even she could hardly hear herself, “if only Alisdair had never given me the crown.”  She said this only absently, without meaning much by it, but she happened to say it just as her eyes were on Alisdair’s crown where it sat atop all the others in the chest below her, and she found herself wondering what might happen if she were to put the crown back on Alisdair’s head right that moment.  She turned her head very slightly to the left, just enough to see that the tall, reptilian man was still standing guard over her, and she could only assume that the panther-woman was standing behind her as well.  She had no time to think any further, however, because just then there was a rippling shout that began at the furthest flanks of the great crowd and swelled to its center, almost like the wave at a baseball game.

Lindy could not at first understand what had caused the outcry, but she soon saw that the veil of light was being eaten up at both ends by a ripple of silver flame, like a sparkler burning from both ends, moving ever closer to the bridge from each side. The flame moved only slowly, but Lindy guessed that it would be only minutes before the two waves of silver met at the bridge and the veil of lights was eaten up entirely.

“At last!” she heard Khurshid shout to the crowd behind her.  “The veil falls, and there is no one to renew it.  At last we return to our rightful place.”  Another roar went up, and Lindy turned to see that Khurshid was now standing on his throne and looking back across the screaming throng below him.  She also saw that the guards on either side of her had turned as well, looking up to where Khurshid stood framed against the light of a hundred torches, and she realized that she needed to act then or not at all.  Though she had no idea if it would actually help anything, and though she was almost certain that she would be caught and punished before she could even manage it, she darted forward, seized Alisdair’s crown from the golden casket, and ran down the steps of the carriage.  Then she set the crown on its rightful owner’s head.

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Here is the next installment of Lindy. Those who are new to the story can find the beginning at Chapter One, and those who would like to have the story thus far in a single file can find it in both .pdf and .rtf formats on the Longer Works page.

Chapter Twenty:
In Which Lindy Has Words with The Crofts

When everyone had finally gone to do the things that needed to be done, Lindy was left to dress and make herself as presentable as she could.  She had only the same clothes that she had been wearing for days, the same ones that had been torn in the forest and mended by Amena and dirtied by a day and most of a night of walking.  Even when she dusted them off, they still looked like something that the hobos in movies wear, and she was almost glad that there was no mirror in the cottage to show how tangled her hair was.  She ran her fingers through the knots to try and straighten them, but she doubted that it improved things much, and she was too worried about her mother and about everything else to really care about her hair anyway.

There was really not much else for her to do, so she went to the door and laid her hand on the latch, but she was not sure whether she was ready to see anyone quite yet.  It was as though she was feeling every emotion at once.  She had been so relieved to be back at The Crofts and so happy to see everyone again and so certain that they would find a way to rescue her mother and Alisdair, but now it looked as though there would be no rescue after all, and all her happiness with mixed with anger and frustration and disappointment and despair.  All she really wanted to do was to stay hidden away in the cottage until everything was over, but somehow she lifted the latch anyway, and somehow she found herself stepping out into the midday sunlight, and somehow she managed not cry or scream or do any of the things that you and I would probably have done if we were her.

Outside the cottage, people of every shape and description had settled themselves around the arch and its platform.  They looked like the pictures that Lindy had seen on the news of refugees from wars or disasters, huddling in small groups and clutching a few things too precious to leave behind.  Their faces were all tired and worried and frightened, and Lindy began to realize just how many lives she had put at risk by losing the crown.  She had never imagined that so many people lived in The Weald.  There had been a good many at the feast in the great hall, of course, but they had mostly come from other worlds, and The Crofts had otherwise seemed so empty and lonely right from the moment that Lindy had first wandered among its cottages. Now it was overflowing with people waiting their turn to go through the arch to places that Lindy could only guess at.

Even so, The Crofts still felt lonely to Lindy.  Maybe it was because there was still no one to live in the little cottages, or maybe it was because there would soon be no one left to live in The Weald at all, or maybe it was because Lindy herself felt so terribly alone, but she felt the same sadness and waiting about the cottages that she had felt when she first saw them, and she also felt the same sense that she belonged to them somehow, even if she could not protect them.

Clinton and Nydia were already waiting beside the arch.  Lindy watched as a group of refugees approached them, and there was the now familiar shimmer in the arch, and the platform was empty once more.  Clinton looked up and motioned for Lindy to join him, but everything felt wrong.  She knew that it made perfect sense to send everyone away to safer places and to destroy the arch before Khurshid could use it, but she could not bring herself to believe that there was no other way.  If only she could speak to Alisdair or Amena or Penates, or even The Crofts, anyone who might help her know what to do.

“Hello, Lindy,” Clinton said, “would you help Nydia organize those who are leaving?”

“Yes,” called Nydia, “I could really use your help.”

There was nothing so very upsetting about what Clinton and Nydia had said, and Lindy knew that they probably intended only to make her feel useful and included, but for some reason it made her furious, and being furious over something so unreasonable made her even more furious, but it only took her a moment to realize that she was really only angry with herself for not having done what she knew she needed to do.  She had been so caught up in everyone being so kind and not blaming her for what had happened that she had forgotten why she had come back in the first place.  Whatever anyone else said, and however much she wanted to believe them, Lindy knew that this whole situation was her own fault, and she knew also that she needed to face up to it, and that meant going to apologize to The Crofts, however hard it might be.

“No!” she said, quite sharply, more sharply than she intended.   Nydia looked surprised at her tone.  “I mean, I’m sorry, I know you’re just trying to include me,” she said, “but there’s something I need to do.”

Lindy suddenly felt much better, and she realized just how much she had been dreading her meeting with The Crofts, and how much she had been trying to avoid it, and how guilty she had been feeling for not being brave enough to do it after she had come all this way.

She turned toward the house, along the same path where Clinton and Moe had led her when she had first arrived.  The grass was much more trampled that it had been then, and there were now many voices to break the stillness that she had felt that morning, but there was still something mysterious and unnerving about that walk, as though it would never end in the same place or in the same way twice, and when she reached the door of the house, it seemed like more than just an ordinary door to her.  It seemed like a door that might lead anywhere, like the wardrobe in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or like the mirror in Lilith or like the arms of the angel in The Garden Behind the Moon.  “If I go through that door,” she thought, “anything might happen,” but then she remembered that going through the arch and climbing the long stairway and crossing the bridge had been much the same, and she felt a little better, so she reached for the handle.

As soon as she touched it, The Crofts filled every bit of her like an electric shock.  She was frozen, unable either to open the door or to take her hand away.

“How dare you come back here?” the house roared through her mind.  “You have destroyed me, and now you come to my door and ask my hospitality!”  Lindy felt her body shaking with the house’s rage.  “You are a liar,” it cried, “a liar and a traitor and a fool! And I was the greater fool for trusting you.”

Lindy tried desperately to focus her mind on calming The Crofts as she had done before, but the emotion of the house overwhelmed her.  She could not even find the strength to speak, and her mind was overrun by emotions and images that were not her own.  She saw the cottages of The Crofts ablaze, and she saw its doors torn from their hinges, and she saw its towers tumbling in ruin.”

“You brought this on me!” the house screamed.  “You gave the last crown to him, and now he’s coming, and I’m ruined.  Look!  Look at what you’ve done.”

All Lindy could see was fire and smoke and darkness and falling rubble.  She had a glimpse of the library with its books torn and scattered, fire licking at the doorframes.  She saw the long table in the great hall smashed into kindling for a bonfire that rose almost to the vast ceiling.  She saw her own cubby with her things broken and scattered and her window smashed.  And then she Penates, sitting on his hearth and weeping into his hands.

“Please,” Lindy managed, “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry?” raged the house. “And what good are apologies now?  Will they keep me from ruin?”

“They won’t, I know.  I don’t think anything will.  But I really am sorry.  Really.  I did what I thought I should, but everything went wrong, and I’m sorry.  You were right.  I just wasn’t strong enough.”

Suddenly the house’s rage became sorrow, and the change shocked Lindy’s mind all over again.  She found herself crying with great sobs, and she would have fallen to the ground if her hand had not been fixed so firmly to the handle of the door.  There flamed through her mind images of countless people, one after the other.  She recognized none of them, but she knew that they were Keepers and other residents of The Crofts from across the years.  She saw people walking among the cottages and looking out from windows.  She saw people feasting in the great hall and eating in the kitchens and watching plays in the theatre and reading in the library and doing all the other things that people had done as they lived in The Crofts and made it a home.  With each face that flickered through her mind, Lindy could feel the house’s sadness, as if it was looking through photographs of old friends who had died, knowing that there would never be any more such friends, and she felt as though she might drown in the house’s sorrow.

At last, Lindy saw Alisdair’s face among the rest.  he was sitting solemn and kindly in a leather chair, and Lindy felt her own grief match the grief of The Crofts.  “I’m sorry,” she cried again, though she knew that Alisdair’s loss had not really been her fault.  “I didn’t know.”

“What do you want of me?” The Crofts demanded.  “What can you possibly want of me now?”

“I want to keep my home from Khurshid, just like Amena and Penates, and my cubby here is the only home I have now.”

“This is not your home!” the house thundered, it’s renewed anger washing over Lindy’s mind.

“I know,” Lindy said, feeling just how true this was.  “I know it’s not really my home, but I thought at least the cubby could be my home.  Couldn’t it?”

The Crofts seemed almost calm now.  “A place is not your home just because it looks like your home, or just because you have put your things in it.  You have to make a place your home.  You have to do something to make it your home.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Nobody can tell you what to do.  You’ll either know, or you won’t.  But this is not your home,” the house paused for a moment, “and soon it will be nobody’s home at all.”

“Can’t I at least go and get my things from my cubby?” Lindy asked.  She felt tired all of a sudden, as if she had been standing there at the door for hours.

The Crofts hesitated a moment, but then relented. “Take whatever you want.  It makes no difference now.”

At once, Lindy’s hand was released from the doorknob, and she sank to her knees as her things appeared beside her.  It looked like the whole contents of the attic were there, but most of them were not really important to her.  All she wanted was her old sleeping bag and her favourite pillow that she used for propping herself up when she was reading.  She had no idea what exactly she would wanted with them.  She told me later that even asking for her things had been a whim, and it was only after everything was sitting on the lawn that she felt how much she needed that blanket and that pillow, though she was still not sure why.

Still weak and trembling from her encounter with the house, she put herself back on her feet and walked over to her sleeping bag, rolled it up, and tucked it under one arm.  Then she put her pillow under the other and set off down the path toward the bridge.  She could not have told you exactly why she went in that direction, except that it seemed the only thing left to do, so that is what she did.

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Here is the nineteenth chapter of Lindy. Those who are new to the story can find the beginning at Chapter One, and those who would like to have the story thus far in a single file can find it in both .pdf and .rtf formats on the Longer Works page.

Chapter Nineteen:
In Which Clinton Holds a Council

When Lindy woke the next morning, the first thing she saw was the thatch of a cottage ceiling, and she thought for a moment that she was back in Amena’s cottage.  It was only when she sat up and saw Clinton sitting in a chair beside the bed, his face full of concern, that she remembered what had happened the night before and began to wonder exactly where she was.

“Oh,” said Clinton, as soon as he saw she was awake, and he resumed his emotionless expression, straightening himself in his chair.  “You’re awake?” he said, and looked at her uncomfortably, as if trying to guess how much she had seen.

Lindy sat back against the wall and tucked her legs up against her chest.  “On behalf of everyone at The Crofts,” Clinton said, trying to recover his usual formality, “I would like to express our great relief to have you safely at home at last.” He looked away then, and he lowered his voice, letting ceremony drop again. “We feared the worst,” he said.  “Penates told us you were alive, but we thought you’d fallen into Khurshid’s hands. And then all that rabble arrived at the bridge the day before last, and with Midsummer so soon, we were losing hope.”

“Amena saved me,” said Lindy, but she realized that Clinton would not likely know who Amena was, so she added, “I mean, the woman in the cottage saved me.”  There was a buzzing of wings from the foot of her bed, and Lindy noticed that Saffi was sitting by her feet.  “Well,” she tried again, “I guess it was Saffi here who actually saved me.”  The insect folded his wings and nestled into the blankets again.  “He took me to the cottage that I saw in my vision,” she continued, “and there was a woman there called Amena.  She was the one who helped me.”

Clinton stood.  “Yes, I’d like to hear the whole of your story,” he said, “but I should first call the others so they can hear it as well.  I can have Penates send some food too, if you like. Would you eat something if I brought it, Miss Lindy?”

“Oh, yes,” said Lindy, who felt, what was true, that she had eaten only winter apples and bread and a few wild strawberries for two days running.

Clinton left through the room’s wooden door, and left Lindy with nothing much to do but sit in bed look around her.  She had already guessed that she was not in The Crofts, neither in her bedroom nor in her cubby, but in a cottage very much like Amena’s, and now she began to wonder if she had been sleeping in one of the empty cottages that she had first seen when she came to The Weald.  She had looked through the windows then, and she thought she remembered the small stone fireplace and the plain wooden furniture, and the little loft right above her bed, and the whole room had the same familiar feeling, as if she had been there before.

She had only just finished taking stock of these surroundings when the cottage door opened again and there entered a whole flock of visitors, first Cleanna, and then a few faces that Lindy recognized from her time in The Crofts but could not actually name, and then quite a few more faces that she could not remember ever having seen before.  The cottage was not really big enough to hold all of these people, so some had to give way in order for others to have their turn, and for several minutes it seemed that someone was always coming and someone was always going and someone was always saying how good it was to see her safely back, and though Lindy was worried at first that they would be angry, everyone was very kind, and nobody said anything at all about Moe or Khurshid or the crown.

When at last everyone had been able to see Lindy and give their best wishes, the cottage began to empty, leaving only Clinton and Cleanna and a few others behind.  There was the blind woman who had sat with Lindy at the breakfast table on the morning Alisdair had been captured; and there was a broad, muscled woman with thick, dark hair; and there was also a beautiful young man, almost a boy, very short and slender and delicate, a perfectly formed man only a little taller than Lindy herself.  They all sat talking quietly as Lindy finished the breakfast that Clinton had brought and that she had been too distracted to eat until now, waiting expectantly until she had eaten her last bite.

“Miss Lindy,” said Clinton then, turning to the small group around the table, “You already know Cleanna, of course, but these others are perhaps new to you.”  He gestured to the blind woman, who was seated just to the left of where he stood.  “This is Nydia, one of the oldest of us here at The Crofts.”  Nydia inclined her head, smiling pleasantly, and her smooth eyes, which had been blank until then, began to show the rapidly changing symbols that Lindy recalled from their first meeting.

“This,” said Clinton turning to the woman with the broad shoulders and muscled arms, “is Bayard.  She came to join us for the great feast, but she feared the worst even then and decided to stay and lend her aid if anything should happen.  She will lead those who choose to resist Khurshid by force of arms.”

Clinton then turned to the last of the party, the diminutive man.  “And this is Freidan,” he continued.  “He is one of those with whom Alisdair consulted about the arch.  He has come to us with news about what may be happening to the arch and to The Crofts, all of which we will share with you in due time.”  He looked back to Lindy.  “Penates would like to have joined us also, of course, but he is unable to leave his kitchens, and he tells us that The Crofts will not permit you to enter its doors, so we must make do without him for the moment, though we can consult him very easily should it be necessary.  Now, though I don’t want to impose too much on you, especially considering what you’ve endured over the last few days, it’s already quite late in the morning, and much remains to be done to prepare for Midsummer tonight, so might we ask you to  relate as much of your tale as you are able?”

Lindy set aside her plate and swung her legs over the edge of the bed, trying to think of where to begin.  Her first thought was that she should tell the story right from the morning that she and Moe and Cleanna had set out from The Crofts, but she had only just begun when Clinton interrupted politely to say that Cleanna had already told them the story that far, and then Lindy asked exactly how much Cleanna had been able to tell them, and so Cleanna ended up retelling a little of her own story, explaining how she had outflown the traitor-kings and the forest night-fliers and escaped to The Crofts.

When she finished, Lindy tried to remember everything she could and to put things in their proper places, much as she did later when she was retelling the story for me, but she kept forgetting things and having to go back to fill in the details that she had missed, so it took her longer to tell the story than you might expect, the rest of the morning in fact.  Everyone was glad to hear that Moe had still been alive when she saw him last and that Alisdair was still alive as well, at least according to Khurshid, and they were all sympathetic when they heard that Lindy’s mother was being held captive also.  When she got to the part about Amena’s cottage, Nydia said that she remembered having met the same Amena long ago, before Khurshid’s country had become as dangerous as it was now, and Clinton said that there were others like Amena and that Alisdair would surely know her since he often went to visit these people and bring them what he could.  It was the last part of Lindy’s story that caused the most excitement, however, when she told them how Khurshid was bringing his prisoners to the bridge for Midsummer night.

“We must rescue them,” Cleanna cried, and the same emotion was written clearly on everyone’s faces.  No one, however, seemed to know exactly how such a thing could be managed, and there was a long silence in the room.

At last Clinton cleared his throat.  “Now,” he said, quietly and firmly, as though he were trying to convince himself as much as the others, “You all know I want to see Alisdair and Missus Merton rescued as much as anyone, and Moe too if he’s there to be rescued, but I don’t see any way it can be done, and unless someone else has an idea, we simply have no more time to spend thinking on it.  There’s too much to do between now and midnight.  We must tell Lindy our plans, and then we must be about them.”  He looked around the room, from one person to another, and no one said anything, though there was not a happy face among them, and at last everyone nodded in agreement, though Cleanna looked as though she would cry.  Lindy could barely restrain her own tears, but she could think of nothing that might be done, so she nodded too, and she kept her eyes on the stone floor so that no one would see that they were glistening.

“Now,” Clinton said, “to the point.  Miss Lindy, in something less than eight hours, at midnight, Khurshid will cross the bridge, and there will be no Keeper remaining to prevent him.  He will almost certainly make straight for The Crofts, and we do not have the strength to defend it long.”

“Some of us are preparing to resist him,” interjected Bayard, and for a moment she seemed to become a huge black mare, muscles tensed and nostrils flared.

“Yes,” continued Clinton, “Bayard will lead the more warlike among us to harass Khurshid’s followers and to draw them away from the house for as long as possible, but there are none among us who can face Khurshid himself or the traitor-kings directly, so we must assume that The Crofts will fall to him before too long.”  Though he said this with his usual unflappable demeanour, his voice was grim, and no one else made so much as a noise to break the heavy silence when he paused.

“Since we cannot defend The Weald,” he said at last, “then we must evacuate it in as orderly a fashion possible.  There are some who will stay and keep their homes from Khurshid if they can, but the bird women have already been gathering those who wish to leave by the arch, and Nydia will supervise their evacuation to whichever world they choose.”

“But didn’t Khurshid break the arch?” asked Lindy.  “Isn’t that why I couldn’t go home?”

“As to that,” replied Clinton, “Freidan can explain much better than I,” he looked at the diminutive creature pointedly, “but I will ask him to keep it short.”

“Certainly,”  said Freidan, his voice seeming larger than he was, a full and rich voice.  “I’ve had some time to examine the arch closely,” he said, “both here and in my home world, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it at all.  I think what’s happened is that The Weald has become tied too closely to Alisdair’s world, to your world, Miss Lindy.  The Weald takes its form from the worlds of the Keepers who protect it, and Alisdair has been the only Keeper for so long that his world and this one have been drawing closer and closer together.  I think that’s why the traitor-kings were able to enter The Weald that day.  They didn’t cross the bridge at all.  They passed directly from this world into Alisdair’s, where there’s no bridge, so they could cross over into his property and then travel back here, directly into The Crofts.”

“They can do that?” Lindy exclaimed.

“They couldn’t before,” Freidan answered, “but I believe they can now, though Khurshid himself must not be able to travel like this, or he would be here even now.  I think that he must have discovered how the two worlds were coming together and sent his traitor-kings to go into Alisdair’s world to watch the arch and capture him when next he came through it.”

“So, how can we send people back to their homes if they control it?” interrupted Lindy again.

“Because the traitor-kings control only one exit of the arch, the exit in your world.  They can only use it to travel here, to the real arch, which they very well might do yet and attack us from two fronts once Khurshid has crossed the bridge, but they have no control over the arch’s many other exits.  So long as we don’t try and travel to your world, we should be able to use the arch quite safely.”

“Cleanna’s people,” interjected Nydia, “have been gathering those who wish to leave for two days now, and some have left already.  A few are choosing to stay, I know, but we will help any who want to leave until it looks as though the arch is in danger of being captured.”  She looked as if she would say more, but then hesitated.

“And then,” finished Freidan, his rich voice heavy with determination, “then I will destroy it.”

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