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Old Ridgar and his mates made merry on the seas,

To put to port with a hold full of gold,

But little did they know, of seeds sown,

On a blustery day when legend was made,

When old Ridgar lost his precious Eye!

—Sea chantey, bands of the Poesasian.


Baus, an impulsive, rebellious young man, seemed destined to become an outlaw. He had escaped guillotining by the Vulde, Lord of Silsoor manor, but only by a hair; now he ran, all through the night on legs that were swiftly turning wooden. Scenes came to his mind—of light and colour—creaking with resonances of fire and death and anguished dream. He remembered the cobbled path, weaving its way from New Krintz’s palisades . . . scrambling away from the trail on a frantic tack through uncharted woods, fearful of wrathful villagers . . .

Now he emerged from the wood like a wolf, carrying only a single weapon: Lolispar, that magic dagger appropriated from the shrunken nobleman Trimestrius. The only other item of import he carried was a ganglestick, a magic talisman whose prod could momentarily freeze its victim to immobility. Around him, silver larch clustered in tight knots. They hemmed his path like a cabal of old ghosts. Prickly and stunted, battered by the harshest winds from the sea—only his torch kept him clear of their brambly fingers, but he squeezed on, down whatever zigzagging paths his feet could find. Unknown qualms had him bending on a course toward the sea, to rejoin the ragged trail he had quit.

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