Slowly we made our way toward the gate, followed by Jarvik who made sure that none of the law-men stopped us.
We arrived at the gate. The guards looked at us and at Jarvik, not knowing what to do. "Open the gate", Jarvik said. They hesitated but complied, and the gates swung inwards. I felt the point of the knife prick through my clothes again and stepped through the opening. Beron's brother followed me, and the gate closed behind us.
It was almost dark, and the evening air was cool on my skin.
"Can I lower my hands?" I asked, without turning my head.
I slowly lowered my hands, grateful to be able to relax my neck and shoulders.
"You can put the knife away", I said. "I'm not going anywhere."
"Oh yes, you are. Start walking."
I began to walk down the mountain path, hearing his footsteps and his breathing shortly behind me. The moon was almost full and I had no trouble finding my way.
Around me I could hear the sound of running water making its way down the mountain side, crickets chirping, small animals scurrying about in the undergrowth and the occasional call of a nocturnal bird. The sounds, the moonlit landscape, the breeze on my skin and the stone and gravel under my feet - all these sensations came to me with an intensity I had never known before. I wondered how close to death I was and thought: if I'll be used for evil, please let me not live another day.
I stumbled, and the next moment I was knee-deep in the ice-cold brook. "Stop", he said, when I began to scramble out. I straightened, my legs becoming numb with cold.
"Kneel", he said.
I knelt, the water now reaching to my thighs. The scuffles and splashes behind me told me that he was in the water with me, and I was certain he was going to kill me there and then. I closed my eyes and tried to visualise how, once liberated from my body, my soul would make its way towards the light.
He knelt right behind me, and with his left hand on my forehead he pulled me against him. I willed my body to remain limp. I felt his right shoulder move against my back, and I knew the end was only moments away.
The water was rising, and only my head and shoulders were above the surface. The sound of the brook had become a deafening roar, and the current pulled so hard at my clothes that I almost lost my balance.
From a great distance I could hear shouts. I opened my eyes, and for a moment I thought I saw a man on horseback, dressed in some uniform I didn't recognise, gesturing and shouting as his horse pranced.
I lost my balance and fell, closing my eyes as the water washed over me.
Hands grabbed for me, and a knife ploughed the water's surface.
For a moment the weight of my waterlogged clothes dragged me down. Then a shining tunnel opened in front of my and I sped through it, a silver arrow among countless silver arrows, flying through the water towards an as yet unknown destination.
On this page Transitional HTML 4.01 and CSS 1 are used. If you're seeing this text you either have CSS switched off in your browser, or you're using a browser that can't handle CSS. If you're using an older browser version, you might want to consider upgrading.