Page 17 - Five_Dances_Short_final_1

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he man detected my attack instinctively. To succeed, I had to act fast before he had time to resist. I stretched along his spine and twisted my way into the soft substance at its core, enjoying the f low of energy inside it. The double, when it didn’t need to project a visible form, was infinitely small, so small that it could perceive the tiny bubbles of matter forming everything in the world.

I eased my way between those bubbles to his center, where his soul resided in its eternal light. Just as a mosquito makes its bite painless, so I concealed the moment of blending with impulses of love and compassion. For an instant, the naked man’s soul calmed down. When I had achieved perfect stillness, bits of his thoughts f lowed into me. He called himself Hernán, although his soul had a different and ancient name that it didn’t reveal to me.

Hernán didn’t know the name of the woman who lay with her legs open in front of him, so he called her Anabel. That woman was a great performer. She also must have been a sorcerer, or at least was able to see my double, which was unusual among common people. Her eyes widened when I rushed in, then she looked away, and she showed no other sign of being aware of my presence. Hernán was no longer thinking, now overtaken by instinct. A dull silence enveloped the room, as if suspending it between the heavens and the sea. A chill passed down Hernán’s back, spreading its debilitating cold to me. An image of an old man f loated before his eyes, and I knew it was his father. That old man had told him of feeling the approach of death in one’s spine. Hernán shuddered. I was over-

t w o

that unknown leader of the outlanders were connected via the Void. Our separation was an illusion. The magicians of old maintained that truth, and Plume had opened their ways to me. We were already connected to Dew, she used to say; we just need to feel that connection. Because Plume’s thoughts were always centered on our daughter, I needed her help and so would stay silent.

But sometimes, when I managed to clear my mind of fear and focus my will, I was able to do some advanced exploration. Once, without Plume’s knowing, or so I hoped, I managed to switch to my double and travel far to the East, to the Lands of the Turkeys, where the big-headed Mayas dwelled in their forest. Alone, I couldn’t muster the strength to travel in a heartbeat, so I glided over the treetops in a shape of a giant transparent wasp. Apart from my euphoria at being able to travel, nothing good came of that trip. A Mayan man, a sorcerer, met me at the seaside and warned me never to come back. Before disappearing, he had taught me some words in a language he claimed the boat people spoke, who had already landed at his coast twice.

I felt rested and, once again, willed the sword into my hand. The low-lifes didn’t exist, Plume insisted, and I was ready to assume that she was right, but how could they not exist if I had seen and heard them?

I swooped down past Plume and engaged the closest low-life blocking my way. Right after I smashed it, a rabbit-sized man with the ruby-red eyes of a predator appeared in its place and, shockingly, caught my sword in mid-descent. My weapon melted in his grasp. “Don’t listen to your wife,” the man said, grinning at me. “I exist, and I’m glad you came. Worship me.”

Plume’s voice jolted me out of my daze. “Leave him! That one does exist!”

A clear path stretched to the cabin in the boat’s stern. I dashed along it into a small, poorly lit room filled with tall furniture. In the back, on a mat atop a wooden platform, a naked and hairy man knelt over a woman, kissing her breasts. I dove into the back of the man’s head.

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