I lay back, feeling the pillow under my head, and running my hands over the blanket that covered me. A window was open, and I could smell the pine trees and feel the warm air on my skin. I felt strangely at peace, no longer fighting the darkness that surrounded me.

"Well, actually there were about a dozen of them," Jadri continued, "surrounding us, with their swords drawn. We were unarmed, and we hadn't seen them coming. One of them asked us to step aside, and we obeyed. Then he tried to open the door, but of course he couldn't. He started banging his fists on the door ordering you to open up, but you didn't respond."

I wondered about that. Had I heard anyone but Merran and Jadri shouting at me from the corridor? Maybe, maybe not.

"Who were they?"

"Soldiers, or at least that's what I thought. They were wearing Army uniforms."

Army, I thought They had been allies of the law-men. But, then again, so had the Royal Guards. In these confused times allegiance didn't seem to have any meaning anymore.

"They marched us off to Jarvik's rooms. When we came in Jarvik was at his desk, talking to one of their officers. He got up when he saw us, telling us to stay in his office. Merran tried to ask him what was going on, but he was told that everything was alright and that all would be explained later. With that they all left, leaving us behind."

I thought of what Jarvik had asked me - are you with us or against us? Was there some kind of conspiracy going on between him and the Army?

"For a while, we didn't know what to say. I opened the door, and found that there were four men guarding it. They had their hands on their swords, making it clear that we wouldn't be allowed to leave. I gave them my most innocent smile, muttered an apology and withdrew. After that, there was little we could do except sit there and wait."

Whatever Jarvik had been involved in, Moire had been in it with him. I wanted to trust their judgement, but couldn't.

"So, we waited," he continued. "Though we hadn't seen each other in a long time we were both too tense to talk and we just sat there, listening for any sounds that might give us a clue about what was going on. For a long time we heard nothing, the building was completely quiet."

I heard him swallow. "Eventually, we couldn't bear the silence and the uncertainty any longer, and I opened the door to check on the guards again. They were gone. We went out into the corridor. Something must have made the guards leave their post, and we wondered what it was. Then we heard noise down the corridor, and we decided to investigate."

He took a deep breath. "Around the corner we found complete chaos. Soldiers fighting soldiers, soldiers fighting law-men - the noise and the confusion were incredible. In the midst of the melee we saw Jarvik and Moire along with several of our men, and we picked up some swords and made our way towards them."

Moire, I thought, and I remembered how, a lifetime ago, I had held her in my arms and kissed her. "Are they still alive?" I asked, afraid to hear the answer.

"Yes, I think they are," he said. "I'm sorry, I was coming to that, but of course you'd be worried about them. We were fighting off the attackers but for a while it looked like the other side might win in the end, and I could see that Jarvik was getting worried. He threw Moire a key, pointing to the door of one of the rooms. I later found out that the room has a back door that's always kept locked. He tried to get the two of us to go with her but I refused, telling Merran to go on his own. He didn't want to leave me behind, but the enemy didn't leave us time for discussion and eventually they went in, bolting the door behind them while we kept the enemy occupied. As far as I know they've escaped, and they're fine."

"Thanks," I said, "that's good to hear. I suppose our side won in the end?"

"Yes," he said. "We haven't been able to capture any of our attackers, though, we tried to get them to surrender but they all chose to fight to the death."

That sounded familiar, and cold fear filled my heart. Please, not again, I thought. Wasn't one war enough?

I tried to collect my thoughts. "Earlier you mentioned being sorry about something, and wondering whether you'd done the right thing. Would you care to tell me about it?"

He hesitated. "We've lied to the soldiers, and told them that you're Merran."

With the exceptions listed here, all content © 2003-2004 D9D1E2.COM. Please read the disclaimer, copyright information and terms of use. 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.