Chalker, Jack L. – Watchers at the Well 03 – Gods at the Well of Souls


Lori thought he was losing it but got hold of himself and read it again. Lowrey? Lori! Enthusiastic nod. He’d grade for spelling later.

This next one would be harder. Mavra looked over, but if the two women with Campos saw anything odd there, they surely gave no sign that they noticed. ESCAPADUM, she managed, with a lot of effort. It looked awful, but maybe it would come through.

Again Lori puzzled over the word. What the hell did that mean? Escape … Escape! A very enthusiastic nod.

He moved his head and managed to almost grab the rope around his neck in his mouth. Mavra watched, got the idea, and went over to the post. It wasn’t much of a knot, more a casual loop, but since she had only a bill designed for digging out insects, untying it would not be that easy. Still, looking over at the two Cloptan women, she started to work on it.

It didn’t matter where they were or what they were. As Campos had pointed out, they were self-sufficient in most surroundings and had no real needs beyond food and water. They had been coming north, so they were still headed for the equator. If they could make it, what difference did it make if they were on their own as animals and would have to take some time to get there? She almost had it when Lori gave a deep neigh and shook the rope. Mavra turned to see Campos coming back and knew she had to back off.

Lori didn’t feel too disappointed. If they were going to have to walk in this place, then Mavra would probably be stuck up on top of her somehow, because otherwise they’d move at a crawl. The first chance they got, he’d make a break for it no matter what. If they could make it into the woods at any kind of speed at all, those three Cloptans would never catch them. They would be forced to give up any real chase after they realized that their supplies were also gone atop Lori’s back.

Maybe what Mavra had claimed was all true. Coming from such depths of despair and hopelessness to a point where they not only were brought back together but might actually make a break for it in a region better suited to them than to any pursuers had been too much to hope for. It had taken Mavra to make him realize it, though.

For now they had to wait. He looked over at Campos. What in the world was she doing with that machete?

“Just some vines and those metal cups,” Campos was instructing the other two. “That will do, yes. Kuzi, get the pistols and put clips in them, then bring me one, and fast!”

Quickly Campos sliced through a small tree so that only a small stub remained above the ground. She twisted some thread from Audlay’s sewing kit around it, secured it in a notch, and tied the two metal cups to it so that they touched just off the ground. She then unreeled the thread over to another stump so that it crossed the most obvious path. She then tied it off to another cut trunk on the other side.

Kuzi brought the pistol to her, looking nervous. “What is this?” “Just get back behind the tent and keep Audlay out of the way,” Campos whispered. “There’s something down there you can’t see until it is too late. If those two cups hit each other, stand and just fire as fast as you can anywhere between the threads. Straight out. It’s taller than we are.”

“What is it?” Kuzi whispered back, suddenly scared. “That thing I saw?” “No. Something else. Like a big lizard from hell, only for some reason you cannot see it until it is eating you, so just shoot! I will be over by the rock and doing the same. If we fire quickly enough, we may get it or at least knock it back.”

“Gee … she really does know this stuff,” Audlay whispered, terrified but still confident in Campos-more now than ever.

“I hope so,” Kuzi responded. Giant blob creatures, invisible killer lizards … This wasn’t exactly the picture she’d had in mind of the trip. In spite of his confidence at not being visible, Gus still proceeded cautiously. The mud was slippery, and if he lost his balance and fell, he’d be seen, all right, by just about everybody, maybe before he broke his fool neck. He reached the bluff where Julian thought she’d seen something, and sure enough, it looked as if somebody had been there, maybe for quite some time. What was that-some kind of root there? He’d seen Cloptans chewing on that stuff, but only the menial types. Somebody said it was some kind of mild drug, he remembered, more a habit than an addiction. He picked one up and sniffed it. It smelled like, well root beer, sort of. He dropped it and looked around. Well, if a Cloptan had the habit and was stuck here watching things as a lookout, that would be about what one would expect.

They couldn’t have gone much farther up, not in the dark. There were certainly signs of some kind of boots or shoes, and was that a hoofprint or two? Maybe. He moved on up, being extra careful, and as his head cleared a flat area just above, he saw the tent and campsite and, over to one side-holy smoke! Could that be Lori? The horn was right and it was kinda like the picture Kurdon had shown them, but the colors were certainly all wrong.

They could dye the hair, but they hadn’t cut off the horn.

And over there near the pony-a meter-high ball of feathers that kind of gave off a whole riot of colors. Looked like a damned big owl, though, except for that long pointed beak. Could that be Mavra?

His heart started pounding with excitement. This close! Here they were! With nobody else in sight, he moved swiftly to get up to the top and try to introduce himself when he suddenly felt something catch on his foot. There was a dull chatter.

Suddenly, the whole place seemed to explode. He felt something slam into him like a hammer, and he fell backward and then began to slide down the slope, bits of grass coming off as he slid farther and farther down the mountainside toward the freight yard below.

“Did we get it?” Kuzi yelled.

“We’re still here!” Campos pointed out. This was the most excitement she’d had since waking up in that burg. The sense of danger coursed through her and invigorated her in a way she’d felt only briefly since becoming Cloptan, that having been when she’d disintegrated that bitch on the docks months earlier. “Now what?” Audlay squealed, uncharacteristically excited more than scared. She was actually enjoying this!

“I don’t think that thing will be climbing up here anytime soon again,” Campos told the others, “but there are three more down there, and now they’ll know we’re here. Get together what you can! Never mind how it’s stuffed in! Roll it all up, tie it off, and get it somehow on the horse! We are going to have to move fast! Keep the ammo out. Get me another clip and take one for yourself!” Kuzi threw Campos a clip, and she ejected the old one and inserted the fresh clip in the pistol. But even as she moved with Audlay to strike the tent and get everything together, she called, “Move? Where?”

“Into the forest and then down!” Campos told her. “Get down toward the tracks if we can, I hope. I’ll keep us covered while you get packed! Move!” Terry had followed Gus mentally all the way up, and when he’d been hit, she’d cried out and started toward the trail. Julian moved to try and stop her, but Tony called, “No! Let her go! It may be the only way we’ll find him! Stay here! I’ll get him if he’s still worth getting! Anne Marie, keep me covered. If they start shooting again, shoot in their general direction. Keep them back!” But Juana Campos had no intention of exposing herself again, only of blocking anyone else from corning to the camp level.

It was also pretty easy to find Gus; he was totally visible, sprawled out, covered with mud about halfway to the bluff, and from his side a pool of yellowish liquid gathered. Terry reached him first. He groaned and tried to get up. but it was too much for him. Tony was there only seconds later. “Gus! Are you all right?”

The Dahir’s eyes opened, and he took in several deep breaths. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

Tony examined the wound. “It looks like you’ve taken a bullet in the side. Small caliber, but a mean-looking wound. Can you stand? I will try and help you down the rest of the way.”

“I-I dunno. It ain’t really hurtin’ yet. Here … pull me up-Jesus!” He stiffened and sank back down. “Man! It hurts like hell now!”

“Well, we are going to have to get you down somehow. If I help you, do you think you could get on my back and just cling there?”

“I-augh! I’ll do it! Gimme a moment… Okay-now!” The female centaur’s arms, so weak in Dillian terms compared to the male’s, were more powerful than anybody else’s they’d met along the way. Pivoting around at the nearly universal hip joint the Dillians had, she pulled Gus to a standing position, then grabbed him and pulled him up onto her back. He was barely on, and sideways, but by force of will he managed to turn himself around. Tony immediately started down, Terry following worriedly.

Once back on level ground, Anne Marie helped Gus back down, and they turned him on his side. “Looks like it passed clean through,” Julian noted. “That’s actually a good sign. Trouble is, we can’t tell if it hit anything vital internally because we don’t know what ‘vital’ is to a Dahir, and the only doctors I know of in this whole region aren’t ones I’d recommend to friends.” “We should wash off both the entry and exit wounds,” Anne Marie told them. “We can get buckets or something from the Mixtim, and there’s plenty of water around here, goodness knows. Stopping the bleeding, though, is going to be a real problem, and there’s still shock and infection to worry about. The best we can do is use some of the big bandages in the kit and tape him up and then wait.” “No! Stop! You can’t wait!” Gus gasped. ‘Too close! Too close!” “Just take it easy,” Tony soothed.

“No, you don’t understand! They’re up there! Mavra and Lori both! I saw ‘em! Ow! God! This hurts!”

“Mavra and Lori both?” Julian responded, looking up again toward the bluff and beyond.

“And a lot of guns and a willingness to use them,” Tony reminded her. “One thing at a time! Where can they go? They are on foot now, as it were, and Cloptans would have a lot more trouble in this landscape than we would. If they can get off there at all without coming back through here, they will be off trail and going down into a wilderness. Our biggest danger is that they will come down, guns blazing. You and Anne Marie see to Gus. I will ensure that if they do come down, they will not get far. Do not worry about them. At the moment I would rather be in our position than theirs, actually.”

“I don’t know about that,” Julian commented. “This Campos seems to be a devil, almost supernatural in the harm she can cause. What if they do get down? What if they flag down a train?”

“These trains do not stop for flags, I don’t think,” Tony assured her. “The Mixtim will allow nothing to interfere with their punctuality.” Gus was no ideal patient while the wounds were washed and dressed, but after a while he passed out, and that helped a lot. They rigged up a kind of litter from wood and a freight station tarp and got him under a shed which held maintenance tools. It was all they could do.

Julian sighed. “Look, I’m going to go down the tracks and see if I can pick them up. Oh, don’t look so alarmed! I’ll be careful, and I won’t do anything, only locate them and get back here. They won’t be expecting anybody to do it, anyway.”

“I don’t like it. We’ve already got one wounded member, and he was in many ways the handiest of us all,” Anne Marie said, shaking her head.

“You said it yourself about Campos,” Tony reminded her.

“I know, I know, but don’t you see? It’s something I can do. Something that makes sense that I can do better than either of you. And of all of us I’m the most expendable, anyway. You two have futures when you finally get back home, and even Gus has the girl here in a kind of sweet, Platonic way. I can’t go home, and you know what they did to Lori. Mavra Chang might be my only way out of this. Don’t worry.” She paused, then added, “But even if for some reason I don’t come back, don’t give up. I’m going to do what seems best at the moment. I don’t intend getting caught or shot, but no matter what, you find them. You find them and get them to that Well.”

They knew that nothing they could say and nothing they could do short of tying her up would change her mind, so they let her go.

Once outside, Julian looked around until she found what had to be the messiest, gooeyest mass of dark brown mud anywhere and then got down and rolled in it until she was literally covered with the stuff. There was a heavy mist starting up; it wouldn’t dry out very easily.

Then, on all fours for maximum traction, she started off up the tracks in the direction of the end of the line somewhere far off, searching less for individuals than for hope.

Juana Campos was thinking as they made their way slowly and laboriously down the mountainside, almost tree by tree. The girls had acquitted themselves well in their first real trial; for the first time, she was beginning to have actual respect for their potential.

All along I have been thinking like a woman, she told herself. I have been thinking like the mistress of the local don. I am more than that. That I am a woman I cannot change, but I am also Juan Carlo Rodriges Campos de la Montoya, son of Don Francisco Campos, the greatest man of modern Peru. If I am a woman, so be it, but I will not think like one. Taluud, you will not be the one to rebuild in Clopta, this I swear! Before I am through, they will bow and scrape to me as they did to you. Here begins the future of power in Clopta! No more thinking small, of amnesties and rewards. Those who truly had the power in this world would have to acknowledge her, or a certain little birdie would go visiting the Well. Take it or leave it.

Those amateurs hunting for their friends would not climb up the mountain again, and the only real threat from them had been taken out. Gen Taluud would not be so timid. He would send his men up there and find them gone. Then they would see the signs and figure out what she’d done, and they’d come hunting. Hunting on their big, fat horses. If they could shoot an invisible thing, then how much easier to shoot them off their mounts! Hell, just potting Genny would probably do it.

Once down the hill, she’d find the perfect place, and there they’d camp and lay their ambush. They would wait until the others came. Then whoever was left would have to deal with her!

And part of that price would be completing the set. Then it would all be right. Then this world would also dance to a Campos melody!

It was easy to find the railroad; a train came by every hour by day and every two or three by night. Whatever they traded, the Mixtim sure traded a lot. Finding the spot in a light rain before darkness fell would be more difficult but not impossible. The trees and rocks around there were almost made to be natural fortresses, and she knew how Genny and his men thought. The other two listened in amazement to the plan, but with growing excitement. Not just Kuzi, the new supreme lieutenant, but even Audlay was saying, “Can I have a gun this time, Juana? Please? I been wanting to shoot some guys for the longest time!”

“Pretty one, if I thought you could even hit a mountain with a gun, I would gladly let you,” Campos told her. “But you can be just as important and cover the one area that neither Kuzi nor I can. Just be patient. We must find our spot and prepare it well tonight. I think they will come tomorrow.”

Julian had worked her way slowly along the tracks until well after dark before she decided that she had to have gone too far and started back. At that, she almost missed them. They were quite well dug in and nearly invisible from the road. It was only the fact that they expected their trouble to come from the southeast that betrayed them at all. Once or twice the one on guard looked out from this direction toward the freight yard, and when that happened, Julian’s infrared vision abilities caught a glimpse of a head. Now that she had found them, though, she didn’t know quite what she was going to do. Something inside her told her that no matter what situation she was in, she simply could not take offensive action. It was something inside her that was part of what made her a very different person from the one she’d once been. She could instinctively defend herself-that she’d discovered in the complex-but to go in there and harm someone not trying to do immediate harm to her-it just wasn’t in her.

She had no weapons, anyway. In fact, she had come with nothing at all, her earrings and nose ring being the only artificial things she had. That and her brain, which was at least working efficiently-or was it? She’d had this idea to come here and find them, but that efficient thinking machine hadn’t a clue as to what to do with what she’d discovered.

She wondered if she could get around them and spot where Lori and Mavra were and what their situation was. It might give her an opportunity. She moved into the forest and up and around the Cloptans’ camp.

They had picked their spot very well. No matter what the angle, Julian couldn’t quite get in back of them or above them with any kind of clear view. She knew better than to try to get in really close. They’d trapped Gus somehow, so what chance would she have?

She realized she was making excuses for herself, but it didn’t matter. She was still too much the Erdomese female to be capable of aggression or even of doing most things on her own. It was like knowing everything there was to know about flying a plane and then discovering that she had acrophobia. In fact, although she knew that the only rational course was to go back and warn the Dillians, she found herself unable to bring herself to risk detection by the ambushers. For all the false bravado at the complex, she still had nightmares about it, in particular about being jumped from behind. She’d done it once, because that had been the group and she’d gone with the group, but she doubted she could do it again-especially on her own.

I’m as much of a freak as Mavra, Lori, and those poor things back in the complex, she thought miserably. I’m still the same scared, wimpy little Erdomese cow I was before, only they made it impossible for me to like guys who can defend me.

She tried to figure out some way to actually act, to make something happen, and came up with a hundred different things, but she just couldn’t do any of them. She wondered what she would do if the Dillians came walking up the tracks into the ambush. Would she have the nerve to warn them, or would she be forced to watch them be cut down?

Shortly after dawn there was a change in the camp. Voices and the sound and scents of things being prepared for a breakfast.

Women’s voices, unmistakable even with that Cloptan rasp.

Julian envied them even as she hated them. It wasn’t fair, she thought, finding tears of self-pity rising within her that she was also powerless to stop. A bastard like Campos gets to act decisively, and I can’t even work to save my friends! About two hours after dawn came the unmistakable sound of horses, and Julian feared she was about to witness what she’d worried about all night. However, it wasn’t the Dillians who were coming up the tracks but somebody else. Those voices were definitely all coming from men.

“Only three Cloptans!” Campos hissed. “Three and that blob thing.” She looked over at Kuzi, who had her rifle out and poised, and then back at Audlay. “You ready?” They both nodded.

“Hold it! I hear a train coming-from the south, I think!” Campos whispered. “Wait until the train is almost to them. Then take out the two on this side first. The noise might keep the other two from even noticing the shots. They won’t have a clue where we are or even that we’re here until the train passes, and then we’ve got them cold.”

Gen Taluud heard the train as well. He and the colonel were on the far side of the tracks, and the other two were on the near side. As the train approached, he said, “Let’s all get over there and let the train pass! There’s not much maneuvering room for horses over here!”

Campos could hardly believe her good fortune. “Back two first! Same idea!” she hissed, and Kuzi nodded again.

Suddenly the train was upon them, belching steam and smoke, the Mixtimite engineer sounding the whistle as a warning.

Campos and Kuzi fired their rifles from braced positions dead on, and the two gunmen in back fell off their horses. One of the horses bolted forward, startling Taluud and unbalancing him, and Campos’s squeezed-off shot caught him in the shoulder instead of the head. He whirled in the saddle and screamed at the colonel.

Kuzi’s shot struck the colonel dead in the “chest” area of his manlike riding form, but it passed right through and didn’t seem to do much more than knock him a little off balance.

Campos had expected that, but now she actually stood up, fully exposed, as the train rumbled off into the distance, and shouted, “Hey! Genny! Over here, baby!” The big boss of Clopta looked up from nursing his wound, saw her aiming directly at him, and shouted, “No! Doll! Wait!”

She fired, and his head nearly exploded, with brains flying as he toppled off the horse in a heap.

“That is very impressive,” the colonel shouted to them. “But you may shoot me as much as you like. It is very difficult to find my vital spots, you know, and I am coming up there to embrace you all!”

The shape got off the horse, and Kuzi pumped five heavy-caliber shells into him before his manlike shape dissolved and he began flowing toward them up the side of the sheltering rock.

Suddenly it was not the two shooters but Audlay, teeth showing, who stood atop the rock holding a pot filled with something. “Hey! Blobbo! Want a little bath?” she asked, and emptied the contents of the pot on top of the colonel. The colonel froze, then asked, “What is this? Do you think this will stop me?” Campos and Kuzi emerged from either side of the rock outcrop. Both of them were holding torches.

“No, sir, it is more like a relative of kerosene,” Campos said. “Would you like a light?”

The colonel didn’t have a ceiling or corner to run to, and he had no knowledge that Audlay wasn’t at the top with a torch of her own.

“No! Wait! You need me!” he cried out. “How do we need you?” Campos came back, hesitating and wondering if she was a fool to do so.

“I had a deal with Taluud! He was going to run everything! The whole show! I was to get my own home hex as absolute ruler!”

So that was it. “So why do I need you now?”

“You don’t know who to talk to! I do! I know who pulls the strings up to the councillor level! You can only deal with the government up front!” “Oh, yes? And perhaps we put out these torches and you eat us, huh? I think perhaps we do not have enough guarantees. We will do this ourselves!” “My word was always good to a Campos!” he retorted. “I am Colonel Jorge Lunderman!”

“Lunderman? The one who worked for my father!”

“Si! Si! Yo siempre encontre su padre para ser un hom-bre mas honorado! Y el, a la vez, tuvo no razon para me dudar. No una ves!” the colonel said urgently. Campos was impressed. “jYo tengo su palabra ahora, como estuvo con mi padre, tan estard entre nosotros tambien?”

“Sobre el honor de mis ascendientes y antes de el Dios y el Virgen Santo, si!” “Colonel, this may be the one fatal mistake I make, but I believe you,” Juana Campos told him. “Kuzi, it is all right. Put out your torch. The colonel and I have just come to an agreement.”

Kuzi looked hesitant. “You’re sure? What was that you were saying in that funny language?”

“Nothing is certain, but I think so, yes. I asked the colonel if he was willing to pledge his service to me here as he did for my father back where we both come from. He agreed and took a most solemn oath to that effect. Now, go see if you can get the horses back. We can use them. It is all right.”

The colonel oozed nervously back down the rock and reformed facing Campos. “I am honored that you would trust me still,” he told the Cloptan. “I am, however, a bit amazed. At this very moment I could reach out in a second and swallow you, and what could you do about it? No, no! Do not worry! I am a man of honor. I ask of you no more than I asked of Taluud, and I might tell you that I feel that things will be much better in your hands than in his. I am just curious as to why you trusted me at this point.”

Campos gave a Cloptan smile and looked up atop the rock. “It is all right, Audlay. You can put your torch out now, too!” she called.

The colonel started quivering like gelatin in an earthquake, and soon peals of laughter issued forth from the mass. Finally he said, “I do believe, madame, that this is the beginning of a most wondrous partnership.”

The Cloptan nodded. “Where are the other two men who were with your party?” “Back at the freight yard. The Dahir’s in pretty poor shape from your shot, and the others remained with him. They are now, I should hope, disarmed and well under control. I don’t think either the men, who were only bodyguards, or the Dillians will give us any trouble from now on.”

“And the girl? She is there, too?”

“Oh, yes. She is of no consequence, however. She had some strange powers at one time, but she appears to have lost her memory and control of those powers. She appears able to read surface thoughts but cannot speak. And she is very much pregnant.”

“Pregnant! By one of our old kind from that place here? Or from before?” ‘They think before. They think it is the reason that she was not changed physically into a different race by the Well. Is it important?” “It could be. Before they brought us to this place, they had us more or less service many of that cursed tribe. I was drugged; I do not know for sure which ones. It might well be someone else’s, but it might, just might, be my own child!”

“It might be obvious in at least general terms once it is born. The features …”

“Yes, it might at that! Well, well, this puts an entirely new complexion on things. We will want to ensure that she has that baby before we think of other uses for her.”

“And where are the other two in this little drama?” the colonel asked her, still reeking of flammable oils and nervous about the fact.

Kuzi was bringing up the horses, which had not gone far, when they all heard Audlay give a shriek. All of them headed for the camp behind the rocks. ‘They’re gone!” Audlay cried. “Them no-good animals lit out on us durin’ the fight!”

Other Parts of the Field

LONG BEFORE THE GUNFIGHT MAVRA HAD STARTED TO WORK once more on Lori’s rope. Being a nocturnal creature had certain advantages, one of which was seeing quite well in the dark, even if not quite in the same way she used to think of as clear vision.

It was clear that the women were setting up an ambush; the odds of all three of them being required to pull it off were equally good. She and Lori were virtually ignored once they had been staked out.

Campos was very smart, a lot smarter than Mavra had given her credit for in the past, but the Cloptan was not without some basic human failings, one of which was that she’d clearly begun to regard both Mavra and Lori as the animals they appeared to be, forgetting the minds buried within. This was often a fatal mistake on the Well World, and while it couldn’t, unfortunately, be fatal here, it meant that Campos never thought that Mavra would be able to untie the slipknot holding Lori or that Lori, with a patience and dedication no horse could maintain, would simultaneously be chewing through the rope tied to Mavra’s leg.

By morning it was merely a matter of pretending to still be restrained and hoping that the women would be too concerned with the coming showdown to check on the pair, who were in any event within clear eyeshot of them. When the sound of oncoming riders was heard and the three Cloptans scrambled for their positions, Mavra looked at Lori and Lori just nodded. When the first shots rang out, Lori went down on his forelegs and Mavra scrambled aboard as best she could, then grabbed the rope still around Lori’s neck with the claws on her feet and held on for dear life as Lori took off.

Watching nervously, Julian was startled to see the break and immediately moved away from the ambush and followed them.

Mavra could stay on only for so long in that precarious position, particularly with a trailing rope, and fell off two or three hundred meters into the woods. Lori felt her slip, stopped as soon as he could, and turned back to help her. Suddenly a ghostly, filthy mud-caked shape moved from the trees toward Mavra, who was struggling to get up. At first Lori thought it had to be one of the mysterious creatures who were the dominant race in Leba, but she soon realized that it was someone far more familiar, someone she knew …

Julian put up a hand to Lori to reassure him, then examined Mavra, who’d stopped trying to struggle to her feet when she realized somebody else was there. It was easy for Julian, even with her hard mittenlike hands, to get the rope off Mavra’s leg and then set her on her feet. She then gestured to Lori to approach, put Mavra on his back, then used the rope she’d just freed to secure the large bird to the pony’s torso.

“Can either of you understand me?” she whispered, as only a few voices could be heard in the distance, the train and shots now long past. Getting no immediate response and not wanting to waste any more time, she pointed to Mavra’s bill and then to the other rope around Lori’s neck. Holding on with the bill and relying on the wrapped-around torso rope to keep her body on, it looked like she might actually be able to ride.

Julian pointed farther into the forest, away from the sounds in back of them, and they proceeded onward. Mavra was uncomfortable but fairly secure upon Lori’s back, and Julian reverted to all fours to set a steady but not exhausting pace that covered ground without risking more spills.

They did not stop for hours, not until Julian’s thirst was too much to ignore. As soon as she passed a pool of water off to their right, she slowed and headed for it, Lori following, and together they drank. Then Julian untied Mavra and set her down so she, too, could drink and perhaps exercise or feed. In the darkness of the thick forest Mavra had some reasonable vision, although nothing like what true night would bring. Everything was there but washed out. as in a faded photograph. She was exhausted and felt like she was starving, and her back was killing her from riding like that. And yet .. .

She hadn’t felt this good since she’d reentered the Well World. She was free again! It didn’t matter what she was or where she was; it only mattered that she was again delivered from her enemies.

Different insects were out in the day from in the night, but she had enough practice now to figure out where they were and find them. She wanted to make sure that she didn’t get out of sight of the other two, but she also wanted to eat as much as possible. She hoped that Julian would discover by herself or somehow be made to understand that they should travel long and hard but only at night, when they would have the advantage of better vision.

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Categories: Chalker, Jack L